This Legionnaire's Incredible Video Messages Are Saving Christmas for Isolated Veterans

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Senior sitting alone in nursing home

An Army veteran in Pennsylvania has created video greetings for vets spending the holiday season in nursing homes.

Dave Callahan, the honor guard commander for the Frank W. Sidler American Legion Post 40 in Danville, Pennsylvania, has visited all the nursing homes in his area for years with his fellow post members to wish local veterans a Merry Christmas, deliver care packages, and sometimes even bring a band to cheer them up. But this year, things are different.

Callahan has 20 years of video production experience, so when COVID-19 stopped them from doing their annual holiday nursing home visits, he turned to recorded greetings from community members, sending holiday cheer in a new way.

After Callahan sent out emails asking for people to create greetings and the post asked for submissions on social media, local radio and TV stations and newspaper outlets reported the story. Submissions began rolling in.

"I've got submissions from people in California, Arizona, Illinois, Texas, that nature," Callahan told the American Legion.

The videos aren’t just from local Legionnaires. American Legion National Commander James "Bill" Oxford gave one, as did Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, local school board members and even some members of the state’s congressional delegation. The U.S. Army and Navy bands even gave him music to use.

"Right now ... I think the video itself is about an hour and 15 minutes long," he told the Legion. "And I'm still receiving videos."

When the video is done it will be posted online so it can be shared anywhere. Department of Veterans Affairs' facilities in the state have also requested copies, he told the Legion.

Callahan is accepting submissions until Friday, Dec. 11.

Callahan has seen firsthand what it means for a veteran to receive a visit from a fellow vet. The son and son-in-law of veterans who lived in nursing homes at their end of their lives, he knows how happy they were when fellow veterans visited.

"It's not about me," he told the Legion. "It's about the veterans, and that's the key thing. I used to see my father's and my mother-in-law's face when the veterans came in. That's all I'm looking at, and that's what will make me happy: knowing [those in the nursing home will] be happy."

This story was updated Dec. 11. A version of this story appeared earlier on Legion.org.

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