Magazine article VFW Magazine

Hospital Program Enhances VFW's Community Image

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Hospital Program Enhances VFW's Community Image

Article excerpt

The Department of Minnesota's hospital/home visitation effort brings together professional athletes and veterans. This demonstration of charity has the added attraction of generating positive publicity and thus new members.

It started nine years ago as collaboration between a couple of longtime friends. Don Nix, then commander of VFW Post 5518 in EIk River, Minn., and Brad Madson, director of community relations for the Minnesota Vikings, each had a separate mission that the other could help fulfill.

"I talked to Brad about having some Vikings players visit the Minneapolis Veterans Home on Veterans Day," said Nix, now Department commander for Minnesota. "During their one-hour visits, the players participated in VFWsponsored Bingo games."

It was great publicity for the Vikings, and Madson enhanced the visits by supplying team caps, jerseys and t-shirts that the Vikings players would autograph for the winners of each Bingo game.

"It is very rewarding to see the residents' reactions," Nk said. "It is a popular program and everyone involved is always excited about participating."

When Nix was elected to his current VFW position last June, he wanted to expand the program to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. He wrote letters to the med center's director, Steve Kleinglass, and the Vikings front office staff. Nix reached an agreement with both parties and coordinated a time and date for the visit.

They chose the Tuesday closest to Veterans Day because that is the football players' day off during the week and the day the team designates for community service. Nix - along with Vikings players Jeff Dugan, John Sullivan and Naufahu Tahi - was joined by his Minnesota VFW Chief of Staff Dave Adams.

"The players spent most of their time visiting and talking to the patients in the physical therapy ward," Nix said. "It was sure nice to see the smiles that the players brought to the faces of those veterans. …

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