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December 23, 2010

Armed Forces brighten holiday season for Deer Lodge vets

Members of 17 Wing share time with Veterans at Deer Lodge.

More than 155 veterans who call Deer Lodge Centre home will now have a brighter holiday season, courtesy the Canadian Armed Forces' 17 Wing in Winnipeg.

For the 13th consecutive year, members of 17 Wing have taken a Christmas wish list compiled by Deer Lodge staff and turned it into gifts for its resident veterans.

The veterans' wish list - which in past years has included DVD players, Wii gaming systems, lottery tickets and the occasional request for some holiday spirits - included comfort items such as clothing, pillows and shaving supplies. More important than the gifts is the thought behind them. Members of 17 Wing have embraced the vets at Deer Lodge, working hard each year to ensure they have gifts to open Christmas morning.

"This project gets our personnel closer to the vets and helps to reinforce the fact that their service is appreciated not only on Remembrance Day, but throughout the year," says organizer George Stetina, Administrative Assistant to the Commanding Officer at 402 Squardron.

The veterans, many of whom are alone or have no family living in Winnipeg, have an opportunity to share stories and enjoy some season cheer with active members of Canada's armed forces.

"At times, the veterans get quite emotional," Stetina says. "As serving members of today's Air Force, we understand the sacrifices they made for our country. They set the example and we're proud to do what we can to help them have a good Christmas."

17 Wing's efforts begin in September each year as they work to supply every item on the wish list. This year, in addition to the gifts on the list, 17 Wing also presented Deer Lodge Centre with a commemorative art print featuring the CT142 Dash 8, a navigational training aircraft used by 402 Squadron. They also presented Deer Lodge staff with a gift of $1,000 which will help fund a yet-to-be-determined special item for the veterans.

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