BALTIMORE, md. — "We get an awful lot as we go through life and I think we need to give and I think this is a way of giving back," said Charles Sandler, an Army Veteran and the Commander of Post 167 of the Jewish War Veterans.
They're the oldest organization in the United States, celebrating 125 years.
Sandler explained, "in 1896 some Jewish veterans of the civil war got together and started this organization to promote that Jewish people are involved in the military and to look out for all veterans and our families."
Before Sandler became the Commander of Post 167, Andrew Wolkstein was the Commander. He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He retired after 27 years as a Full Bird Colonel and Commander of the Air Medical Evacuation Squadron as an airman of the WV National Guard. He flew a specific kind of aircraft.
"C130 is the best plane to be in when you’re evacuating people from a war zone," said Wolkstein. He joined the Jewish War Veterans while he was still active duty. He added, "in the military you do service, service for others. In the Jewish War Veterans, you do service for others so it’s a continuing service."
Every year, Post 167 has a fundraiser where they give put poppies and collect donations outside of Fort Meade.
"A poppy represents service members that have been killed in battle so it' a representation of honoring everyone who sacrificed," said Wolkstein.
In 2018 and 2019 they collectively made nearly $4,000. Since they couldn't have their drive in 2020 because of the pandemic, Sandler called a contact at the VA to see if they could use the money they raised before.
He said, "I happened to mention that we had this $3,750 and he said what a coincidence our physical therapy department needs a cross trainer, and it happens to be $3,733 and I said what a deal!"
So the Jewish War Veterans wrote a check to the VA and the hospital purchased the equipment earlier this year. Kendall Conder, the Baltimore Clinic Therapy Manager, explained the bike they had before broke so this came at a perfect time.
"We're just so thankful. I think it’s just really gonna be a benefit for a lot of our patients. Those in the hospital those in the outpatient, it’s gonna life changing for us," said Conder.
She explained how this device helps her patients to "increase strength and range of motion in both their arms and legs." Plus, the seat swivels so it's easy for patients to get on and off.
Parrish Acklin, an Army Veteran, was the first person to use the new machine. She's doing rehab at the VA for her shoulder and legs.
"Once I did 17 minutes and when I got off, I felt it where I was supposed to feel it, in my legs but my helps felt good so it's the best equipment," said Acklin. She added, "it’s so nice to have people to donate equipment for people who have paved the way for everyone’s security all around the world, so for them to give back to us is really special."
This is just one way the Jewish War Veterans has been able to give back to their community. They're hoping to have their annual poppy drive again this year and to have their meetings in person once again!
On March 15, a few of the members are coming together to celebrate their 125th anniversary. They're meeting outside the War Memorial Building in Baltimore on Monday morning for a brief ceremony.