Knights of Columbus Donate Wheelchairs and Lap Robes for Veterans at the VA Maryland Health Care System

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The Maryland State Council Knights of Columbus donated more than 65 new wheelchairs for Veteran patients at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System on Nov. 12, 2011 to mark this year’s Veterans Day. The wheelchairs, totaling more than $13, 300, were presented simultaneously at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, at the Perry Point VA Medical Center and at the Loch Raven VA Community Living & Rehabilitation Center.

Dennis H. Smith, director of the VA Maryland Health Care System, accepts more than 65 wheelchairs from the Knights of Columbus State Council.

“The ability to freely move about unassisted is something we all take for granted until it is taken away,” said Peter Davio, state deputy of the Knights of Columbus.

The Maryland State Council Knights of Columbus donated more than 65 new wheelchairs for Veteran patients at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System on Nov. 12, 2011 to mark this year’s Veterans Day. The wheelchairs, totaling more than        $13, 300, were presented simultaneously at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, at the Perry Point VA Medical Center and at the Loch Raven VA Community Living & Rehabilitation Center. The Knights of Columbus presented 29 chairs to representatives at the Baltimore VA Medical Center during a special ceremony; 28 chairs at the Perry Point VA Medical Center, and 11 at the Loch Raven VA Community Living & Rehabilitation Center.

“The ability to freely move about unassisted is something we all take for granted until it is taken away,” said Peter Davio, state deputy of the Knights of Columbus, who delivered the key note address at the ceremony. “The wonder that many Americans are willing to serve our country in the military at great personal risk - even to the possibility of loss of life - is something we too often take for granted. This chance to give wheelchairs to our servicemen and women is our opportunity to remember and treasure both,” said Dario, an 8-year Veteran of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Service.

In partnership with American Wheelchair Mission since 2003, the Knights of Columbus has funded the donation of tens of thousands of wheelchairs around the world and in the U.S. “Today is a day of gratitude—not for the gift of these wheelchairs, but for the sacrifices Veterans have made in service to our country,” Dario said.

“The VA Maryland Health Care System appreciates the wheelchairs donated by the Maryland State Council Knights of Columbus. With more than 52,000 Veterans from various war eras annually receiving care at the VA Maryland Health Care System, the chairs will benefit Veteran inpatients at three facilities,” said R. David Edwards, chief of Public and Community Relations Service at the health care system. “The Knights have demonstrated a long history of service to our Veterans, visiting Veteran inpatients and hosting birthday parties and Bingo games for those Veterans in the community living centers.”

In addition to the wheelchairs donated to the VA Maryland Health Care System, the Catholic lay organization also donated 45 additional wheel chairs to the Washington, DC VA Medical Center and Charlotte Hall Veterans’ Home. “The Knights of Columbus hope that this small effort on our part can make the care and recovery of those who served our country a little easier,” Dario added.

The VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) provides a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, mental health and outpatient care to veterans at two medical centers, one rehabilitation & extended care center and five outpatient clinics located throughout the state. More than 52,000 veterans from various generations receive care from VAMHCS annually. Nationally recognized for its state-of-the-art technology and quality patient care, VAMHCS is proud of its reputation as a leader in veterans’ health care, research and education. It costs nothing for Veterans to enroll for health care with the VA Maryland Health Care System and it could be one of the more important things a Veteran can do. For information about VA health care eligibility and enrollment or how to apply for a VA medical care hardship to avoid future copayments for VA health care, interested Veterans are urged to call the Enrollment Center for the VA Maryland Health Care System, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1-800-463-6295, ext. 7324 or visit http://www.maryland.va.gov.

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Rosalia Scalia