Veterans celebrate Christmas together at local American Legion

Kent County

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — Knowing the Christmas holiday can be difficult for some veterans, American Legion Post 179 in Walker hosted a Christmas dinner to support those who have served our country.

“Christmas for veterans is our big time of the year. We can shine. We can make the veterans feel like they are welcome home,” post commander Patrick Burns said.

The dinner is an annual tradition, though it was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There were 20 volunteers who helped cook and prepare the meals this Christmas. The menu included beef Wellington, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and rolls. There was also a whole spread of appetizers and desserts.

Many veterans brought their spouses and children to enjoy the free dinner at the legion but it was a different experience for others like Army veteran Stewart Bastian. He’s been living in Michigan for five years now and recently lost two of his loved ones.

“I’ve lost my wife recently to COVID,” Bastian said. “I lost my mother around the same time, so not only did I lose my mother, but I lost my wife of 42 years.”

Though the unexpected loss has been difficult to cope with, Bastian says being around his military sisters and brothers makes this holiday worth celebrating.

“It’s like a family-oriented place. Everybody knows everybody. Everybody cares about everybody. The atmosphere is what it should be,” he said.

Each veteran at the dinner agrees that life during the service and especially after can be difficult. That’s why they hope people never forget the sacrifice these brave men and women have made.

“Reach out to a vet. Reach out to your homeless veteran. Find someone and do what we call a buddy check. It doesn’t take a lot to to save someone’s life,” Burns said.

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