Veterans feel the love from local students, American Legion and Auxiliary

Silhouette of a veteran in front of the U.S. flag.

Our hearts go out to the art teachers at the K-8 Center, St. Agnes Academy, Crossbridge Church, St. Christopher’s By-the-Sea, MAST Academy, and the KB Community Church for having their students make over 1,000 wonderful Valentine’s cards for our veterans at the Miami VA.

The cards were collected, reviewed and counted by Auxiliary members Sally Brody and Bobbie Savage, who truly enjoyed reviewing the students’ drawings and sweet messages.

Auxiliary member Evelyn LaRusso delivered the Valentine’s cards, plus patriotic blankets made by Sybil Pulver and Brody for the spinal injury cord unit at the Miami VA.

On the morning of Valentine’s Day, the veterans received a special breakfast along with several Valentine’s cards and a goodie bag filled with snack items.

There are three Community Living Centers at the VA. On the first level are veterans who have chosen to live at the VA due to their age and/or health issues. On the second level are veterans needing assistance to walk via canes and/or walkers, and on the third level are veterans who are mostly bed-ridden, requiring more assistance than the other veterans at the VA.

The special Spinal Injury Cord unit has 30 beds and the veterans are there usually for surgery on their spine, or for therapy. They stay there for various durations and once finished with their care usually return home. These patients receive our patriotic blankets and get to take them home.

Before the pandemic, we made monthly visits and brought them some homemade goodies, and spent time talking to them for usually three hours. Veterans, those who were able, would attend a monthly Bingo game we provided and we gave away $250 overall to winners. The veterans could spend the money to purchase items in the canteen.

Veterans in this unit get to go on trips out of the VA with special therapists, and recently went kayaking off of Virginia Key for a few hours and relaxed on the beach with some refreshments. Some of the veterans also may get to go, depending on their health, to a National Winter Olympics for veterans in Colorado and a National Spring/Summer Olympics for veterans in San Diego.

Their therapists assist them in various sports, such as tobogganing and sledding in the winter, and swimming and other water events in the summer. These trips are usually about a week and a motel stay is required. These trips are funded by the VA and other outside organizations, such as our KB American Legion and Auxiliary, which can always use more funding from surrounding communities.

Veterans (usually more than 100 plus their helpers) have been brought to the Key via bus for picnics sponsored by our Legion and Auxiliary. Our local firemen and police assisted with the barbecue and provided soda and water. The Legion paid for the hot dogs, hamburgers, coleslaw and potato salad.

Ladies in the Auxiliary baked desserts and served the veterans. Picnics lasted about two hours.

Both our Legion and Auxiliary can sponsor up to three junior high school students to attend a one-week summer session in Tallahassee to learn about state government and meet some of our state representatives.

Any students interested can e-mail B. Dawn Cromartie at or

B. Dawn Cromartie is president of the Key Biscayne American Legion Auxiliary


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