Return The Favor: Christmas with the Veterans

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Lots of us could use a little Christmas this time of year, especially our veterans.

The Cumberland County Honor Guard is doing just that at the Claremont Nursing Facility in Middlesex Township. The vets staying there made lists, and members of the Honor Guard went shopping.

“Whatever they want, we’ll buy them anything they want up to $75. If it goes over, no big deal,” Honor Guard member Eddie Brannan said.

The honor guard has been doing this for more than 15 years as a way of letting their fellow vets know they’re not forgotten.

“During the 60’s, the veterans, when we came back weren’t treated very well, so we were pushed to the side,” veteran and Claremont resident Kim Fuhrer said. “Now, it’s great to have things like this to recognize all the veterans.”

The honor guard throws them a big party, complete with food and entertainment. Then Santa gets to work handing out gifts to about 55 veterans. Gifts include sweatshirts, razors, CD’s, and mouthwash.

“I requested that,” Fuhrer said. “It helps during the year, keeps the cost down for me. I use that product and I like it. That way I have it for a few months.”

That’s the true meaning of this season: not just what is given, but the joy it brings.

“They love it,” Brannan said. “All these people, they really do love it. Last year, I bought a fellow a cowboy hat and he got all excited about that. Some of them break down. They do appreciate this. They just love this.”

For some, it’s not about the gifts at all.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t get visitors,” Fuhrer said. “There’s a lot of people that this is their only socializing that they do. It’s very important for all of us.”

“These are all veterans,” Brannan said. “We have a couple World War II guys, Korean War, Vietnam. Even if they didn’t serve in a war, if they’re a veteran, we take care of them.”

The honor guard spent nearly $5,000 on all of this. They say it’s nothing compared to what these men and women have spent in sacrifices over the years.

“We feel it’s an honor because they served our country,” Brannan said. “We’re all veterans ourselves. It’s a complete honor for all of us, for what we do every day.”

“I thank them with all my heart,” Fuhrer said. “I know, speaking for everybody, I know we all appreciate it.”

The veterans Christmas party has grown so much over the years, the Cumberland County Honor Guard doesn’t even actively fundraise for it. Organizations give them money specifically for this event as their way to spread a little holiday cheer to heroes here in the Midstate.

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