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Vets Bring Christmas Cheer To Sioux Falls VA

By Perry Groten
Published: December 25, 2012, 4:55 PM

Vets Bring Christmas Cheer To Sioux Falls VA
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They came bearing gifts and holiday greetings.

"Merry Christmas, from the veterans groups," Ritch Wilson with Disabled American Veterans said.

Local veterans were on a Christmas medical mission to brighten the day for fellow veterans who were in the hospital.

"They're our brothers and sisters, they need our help," Wilson said.

Wilson knows what the patients are going through. He spent Christmas in the hospital while serving in Vietnam.

"Away from home, you have a lot of things going through your mind and to have somebody stop and spend just a few minutes, it means an awful lot," Wilson said.

Air Force veteran Fritz Merchen has been in the Sioux Falls VA since mid-August. He's grateful knowing that other vets are thinking about him over Christmas.

"It lets you know people care.  If nobody cared, then why should you care?  Why should I care if I get any better if nobody else does?  So that's how it helps," Merchen said.

Many of the patients have relatives living hundreds of miles away.  So their veteran visitors serve as a surrogate family.  

"It's extremely difficult for a lot of the families to be here on Christmas Day,"  Wilson said.

Even patients who do have family in Sioux Falls appreciate the arrival of their Christmas Day visitors.

"It's an honor to me that people recognize what we stood for, what we got into," Jim Sadowski of Sioux Falls said.

Overall, today's about veterans reaching out to other veterans, sharing stories and smiles. 

"The holidays bring us all a little closer," Sadowski said.

The VA visitors included members of the Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

© 2012 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.

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