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   If you've ever been hospitalized, you know the loneliness and depression you can experience. Think how tough it must be for hospitalized veterans, especially those who are far from home or have no family. With that thought in mind, George Schwarz of Clawson-Troy, Michigan, Lodge devised a simple yet effective solution in 1980: the Adopt-a-Veteran program.

   His idea proved so successful that it was picked up by the National Veterans Service Commission in 1983. Each year, Elks Lodges across the nation adopt tens of thousands of veterans. The Elks visited with them on their birthdays and holidays and showered them with gifts and attention. They took those who could leave the medical centers out to dinner, and brought dinner to those who couldn't. Elks provide entertainment, recreation to liven their spirits. The Elks provided these men and women with comfort, companionship, cheer and understanding, and in the process helped lift some of their loneliness.

   The object of the Adopt-a-Veteran program is to make the veteran know that they are part of our family , to replace despair with hope, loneliness with fellowship, sadness with joy, and to prove our motto, "So long as there are Veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them."

   National Adopt a Veteran Chairman Stewart Israel of Plymouth, MI Lodge No. 1780, has created several extremely useful documents to help you start a new program:

Adopt-a-Veteran Overview (PDF)    Sixty Suggestions for Veterans Programs (PDF)    Volunteering at the VA (PDF)

Veterans Comfort Care Items

   The Elks National Veterans Service Commission has teamed up with Federated Wholesale, Inc., to put together comfort care kits for our hospitalized veterans at a most reasonable cost. The plastic drawstring bag will have our logo on it as well as space for the veteran's name. Body powder, shaving gel, body lotion, shampoo, alcohol-free after shave and deodorant will also contain our logo.

   The items containing our logo as well as a comb, denture adhesive, emery boards, toothbrush and toothpaste will all be part of the kit.