PIKETON – In February, employees and contractors at the U.S. Department Energy Portsmouth Site cleanup project raised and donated $5,706 for patients in the long-term care facility at the Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Chillicothe. By partnering with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of Ohio, they were able to use the money to help provide basic necessities and encouragement to some forgotten soldiers.
Director Arnie Whipple, Planning & Site-Wide Integration with cleanup contractor Fluor-BWXT, knows what it means to be a veteran of the armed forces. He served four years as a U.S. Marine in Okinawa during the Vietnam War era. Whipple was stationed at Camp Foster in the 3rd Marine Division.
Gary Bumgardner thanks Fluor-BWXT Director Arnie Whipple for leading the fundraiser that earned more than $5,700 for veterans. Fundraising efforts continued for weeks, drawing support from Fluor-BWXT employees and contractors such as Alliant, CRC Technologies, Peak Solutions, LLC and Boston Government Services, LLC. Bumgardner, who works in Project Controls for the Department of Energy, is a 30-year U.S. Navy retired veteran.
“They’re forgotten souls, many without family or anyone they know in the area,” Whipple said. “The need and situation at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center is heartbreaking to us and when I heard about what the VFW District 12 was doing, I thought it was a worthy cause for us to support.”
After working with the VFW, a non-profit organization, it wasn’t hard to figure out what kind of help was needed. Gary Bumgardner, who works in Project Controls for the Department of Energy, also served as the Senior Vice-Commander in 2012 for the VFW District 12. As a 30-year U.S. Navy retired veteran, he can’t help but feel compassion for veterans who may spend the rest of their lives in the VA Medical Center.
“Some of the patients have been in the VA Medical Center for so long that their families lose touch or can’t visit often because they live too far away,” Bumgardner said. “The VA Medical Center the veteran goes to depends on the treatment needed and availability of space.”
Bumgardner said there is an outreach program for veterans who are trying to return to functional life within the civilian community.
“When veterans repatriate, the VFW provides needed home furnishings, work shoes, clothes, food and other necessities that most people don’t even realize,” he said.
“What we collected here will put needed slippers and work boots on their feet. The people here are very generous and supportive of the local veteran community and their families.”
Last year, Fluor-BWXT provided $2,500 in donations through the company’s Community Commitment Plan to purchase more than 500 pairs of shoes, 200 sleeping bags and winter coats, and 300 sets of sweatshirts/pants for VA Medical Center veterans. This year, Whipple and his colleagues decided to pass the hat, raising more than $5,700 in donations.
“Although patients at the VA Medical Center get the necessities, there are several veterans who are severely injured and confined to the medical center,” Whipple said. “There’s a significant need for a lot of things—shoes, boots, slippers, pajamas and hygiene products.”
Fundraising efforts continued for weeks, drawing support from Fluor-BWXT employees and contractors such as Alliant, CRC Technologies, Peak Solutions, LLC and Boston Government Services, LLC.
“On behalf of the VFW, we can’t thank you enough for the contribution,” VFW District 12 Commander William Mangus said. “One hundred percent of this money will be used at the VA to help the veterans.”
On the second Monday of every month, the VFW hosts bingo or other special events at the VA Medical Center such as a barbecue or some type of holiday celebration to encourage comradery. The patients receive prize money to help them purchase items they need. One of the best gifts they receive is talking and getting to know someone from the outside.
“We are their families,” Bumgardner said. “When we interact during these special events, the experience is powerful. Just getting a hug from one of them brings tears to my eyes, because I know we are helping them.”
The Chillicothe VA Medical Center provides mental health services, primary and secondary medical services, nursing home care services, specialty medical services and health clinics. In addition, they offer extended care, nutritional services, vocational and transportation services. The facility is an active ambulatory care setting and serves as a chronic mental health referral center for VA Medical Centers in southern Ohio and parts of West Virginia and Kentucky.
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The Veterans Administration Medical Center in Chillicothe.
About Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth LLC
Fluor Corporation (NYSE: FLR) and BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT) (NYSE: BWXT), two world-class companies with significant Ohio experience, formed Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth LLC (FBP) to address the decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) needs at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Portsmouth Site in Pike County, Ohio. Fluor-BWXT which employs 1,900 workers that bring unparalleled experience, insights, and lessons learned from across the DOE complex. The Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth mandate is to clean up the Portsmouth Site safely and compliantly, provide strong uranium stewardship and partner with local communities to achieve a sustainable economic future. For more information, visit www.fbportsmouth.com.