NIMITZ’ JEA HELPS BOOST MORALE AT VETERAN’S HOME
By MCSN Alexander Ventura II
Twenty-one Junior Enlisted Association (JEA) members from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) visited veterans and their spouses during a community relations (COMREL) project at Washington’s Veterans Home in Retsil, Wash., Feb. 1.
Nimitz’ JEA organized the COMREL project to encourage a positive relationship with the residents at the home, said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class (AW/SW) Adam Baez, JEA volunteer coordinator.
“We wanted the veterans and their spouses to know that even though they aren’t in the service anymore, their past service is greatly appreciated,” he said. “We are always willing to help and show them our support.”
Sailors spent their day interacting with residents; playing dominoes, bingo, checkers and poker; and decorating the home’s mess halls.
“It was great to see the Nimitz come out,” said former Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Charles Large, a home resident. “Some people don’t get anyone to visit so to have these guys here felt good. I would love to have the Nimitz come back here again.”
The residents felt a real connection with the current active duty Sailors, said Tami Rueter, recreation therapy manager.
“The connection residents feel with the Sailors really helps them build value of themselves,” said Rueter. “What they’ve done through their military service a long time ago still continues today. I feel the Nimitz did well making that connection with our veterans. It might not seem apparent, but just sitting there with them is such a huge gift.”
The time Sailors spent with the residents was greatly appreciated and had a huge impact on the them, said Rueter.
“They looked ten years younger from seeing that active duty personnel care,” said Rueter. “There were so many more people out of their rooms just to see and observe what was going on with the Sailors. It was a huge morale boost for the residents here.”
For some Sailors, the visit with the veterans was an opportunity to reflect and learn some of the history of the Navy.
“I had a very positive experience and I learned a lot from these veterans,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class (AW) Rachel Brunmeir. “I found it very interesting to interact with these people because they are a part of our history and we can learn a lot from them. It was great to learn a little about the Navy’s past and its traditions that still carry on today.”
Active duty personnel are welcomed to volunteer at the home, said Rueter.
For more information about volunteering at Washington’s Veterans Home contact Rueter at Tamir@dva.wa.gov.