Polytrauma Holiday Party

December 2019 was the 13th Annual Polytrauma Unit Holiday Party hosting patients on the Polytrauma Ward of the VA Hospital. Veterans and Service Members along with their families and staff enjoyed a Holiday party complete with gifts, Santa, treats, music and dancing. An additional $5,000 check was presented, to finance additional opportunities for the patients to reintegrate off campus where hospital financial resources are not available.

If you would like more information please contact Vessey Chapter President Jocelyn Kujala at jocelyncookson@gmail.com or Poly Co-Chair Joann Hardon at joann.hardon@gmail.com

Please read December 2019 thank you from the VA staff:

Dear Friends of Wounded Warriors on the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Units-

Each year, the Recreation Therapy staff is fortunate to be able to share the joy of the holiday season with our Veterans and their families.  We have the tremendous privilege as healthcare professionals to support our hospitalized Veterans in a variety of ways as they navigate through one of the most challenging times in their lives.  It can be a frightening and helpless experience to be a patient in a hospital, so stepping out of a grueling daily rehabilitation regimen to celebrate the holiday season with laughter and fellowship means the world to them, and to us.  Your generous donation to the annual Inpatient Polytrauma Holiday Party affords us the opportunity to do just that.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, December 10th, 2019, the Veterans receiving inpatient care on the acute Polytrauma Rehabilitation Unit (Ward 4J) and the Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Unit (Ward 1D) at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center participated in a two-hour holiday event sponsored by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), John W. Vessey Jr. Chapter.  A small group of AUSA members worked tirelessly for the past year to ensure that this event was one that would be remembered for a very long time.  As in past years, many rehabilitation staff members including the doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, dieticians, psychologists and administrative staff took part in the party.  Once again, many of them blocked their calendars to ensure they could attend, as they have indicated this is their favorite holiday event each year!  When the Veterans and family members entered the room, they were greeted with live holiday music, a room full of beautiful poinsettias, gourmet cookies & refreshments, holiday games and even a visit from Santa Claus (one of the true highlights of the party!)  Santa entered the room exclaiming “Ho Ho Ho!” and greeted each Veteran, thanked them for their service and handed them a large holiday bag filled with fantastic gifts donated or purchased from generous individuals and organizations throughout the United States.  Major General George Steiner “coined” each Veteran after they received their gift bag – another memorable and emotional moment for each of the Veterans.  The event concluded with lots of singing and dancing.

We had the largest number of Veterans participating in this year’s holiday party – 23!  During the party, one Veteran said (while he shook his head in amazement), “This is all so overwhelming.  I haven’t had this much fun in years!”  A spouse of one of the Veteran’s said she was surprised by how much fun her husband was having (as he had been feeling down due to the effects of his stroke); “He really liked the music bingo game and the live music!”  Some of the Veterans danced to holiday songs and pop music.  Fortunately, there were plenty of therapy team members on hand to provide physical assistance to those Veterans who leapt out of their wheelchairs to join in on the fun!  Some of our Veterans decided to wait to open a few of their gifts so their loved ones visiting the following weekend could share in the excitement.  Many Veterans were moved to tears by the amount of gifts they had received.  Following the event, one Veteran said, “I was told this party would be a blockbuster…it was more than that.  I would like you to give me the names of the people who contributed…they need to be thanked.  It was so wonderful!”  Another Veteran had neatly placed all of his gifts in three of his dresser drawers.  He was supposed to discharge at the end of that week, though perhaps he had changed his mind!  The staff all said they had a wonderful time seeing the Veterans and family members enjoying themselves and forgetting about the physical, cognitive & emotional challenges for a few hours. 

This holiday party meant so very much to our Veterans and their families.  It is a very unique event that, to our knowledge, is not duplicated at any other VA Medical Center in the nation.  Thank you for your generous involvement as your contribution has brought a level of joy to these Wounded Warriors and their families that they may not have otherwise experienced during the holidays.

Our sincere thanks,

Minneapolis VAHCS Polytrauma Recreation Therapy Staff

2020: The Vessey Chapter of AUSA sponsors this wonderful party for our wounded heroes & their visiting families staying at the Fisher Houses. The heroes represent ALL branches of the military & many are far away form their home states.

Each year we provide heroes with a gift bag given to them by Santa as he thanks them for their service to our country. We have been asked to provide 25 gift bags. Last year they included: DVD-CD player/Sony headphones; 2 movies DVDs; 2 music CDs; electronic solitary game, Andy Andrews book/audiobook CDs; bag; Tervis water battle; iTunes gift card; plant from Bachman’s; & a back pack to hold their gifts & belongs. Monies raised go to ongoing support of the Polytrauma patients needs through out the year.

If you would like more information please contact Vessey Chapter President Jocelyn Kujala at jocelyncookson@gmail.com or Poly Co-Chair Joann Hardon at joann.hardon@gmail.com