Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VAMC
PVAMC Veterans Celebrated at Welcome Home Event
On May 18, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center Veterans were treated to a day at Citizens Bank Park where the newly returning troops were invited to the annual Welcome Home Event that pit the Philadelphia Phillies against the Cincinnati Reds.
The event was made possible through the generosity of Cole and Heidi Hamels ticket program, Hamels’ Heroes, the Phillies club and their special staff, Aramark, Termini Brothers Bakery and Philadelphia VA Medical Center employees who were on-site to field benefit and enrollment questions.
A total of 60 Veterans, and their family and friends, enjoyed the pre-game activities which included field time with the players, photos, and an autograph opportunity with Hamels, ballpark lunch spread, and military recognition on the scoreboard that acknowledged their service and drew a standing ovation from the fans.
“This is exciting because I’ve never been to a Phillies game before,” said Army Veteran Aysha Bellamy. “It is even more exciting because I was medevac’d out of country so I didn’t have a welcome home event, so this is my first time and it is so awesome!”
Prior to the start of the game, the Phillies requested three service members to participate in the tradition of changing out the bases at the end of the 3rd inning. The Veterans were happy to oblige and were joined on the field by Phillies players who came out of the dugout to meet, shake hands and thank them for their service.
“My experience of changing out 3rd base today was something I will never forget,” said Air Force Veteran Jorge Gonzalez. “To stand in front of all the people in the stands and get the applause we did for what we do is amazing. This is something I will always keep in my heart.”
Members from all five branches of service joined together for the event which happened to fall on Armed Forces Day. This year, five women Veterans attended this special event. The VA continues to see an increase of female Veterans, the result of the growing number of women in the military and VA’s outreach to them.
“It’s great to be home,” said U.S. Army Veteran David Ritter. “Thank you to everyone for their support ~ and to the Phillies for this great day.”
The Veterans took time to thank each and those individuals who helped make the event possible.