Airmen pay respect to local veterans on Valentine's Day

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Valentine's Day has come and past, and whether you believe the day represents a chance to profess your love for someone special or a marketing ploy to guilt consumers into spending money, there is no denying the holiday is big business.

However, a group of Airmen from Maxwell-Gunter used the holiday to pay respect to local veterans at the Montgomery Veteran Administration Hospital.

Each year, as part of the Maxwell-Gunter Valentines for Veterans community relations program, students from the Maxwell Elementary-Middle School make more than 50 hand-decorated Valentines cards and Airmen volunteer to deliver them and spend time sharing stories with in-ward patients. 

"I wanted to do something great for the veterans.  It's always great to give back wherever and whenever an opportunity arises...especially for a great group of individuals," said Tech. Sgt. Antonio Lett, administration and personnel section chief, Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education.

As the son of a Vietnam veteran, Lett has a personal connection to the same men and women Valentines for Veterans recognizes.

"This was my first time participating in Val's for Vets, and I volunteered to show my appreciation for what they did for our country," he said. 

Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development, financial services technician, Senior Airman Alexander Stojadinovic explained that he volunteered for Valentines for Vets because getting to interact with veterans is something that is personal.

"I love the military and am from a military family. I always heard stories growing up and this event allowed me the opportunity to interact with past and present vets," Stojadinovic said. "It was great to sit and talk with a few of the veterans and hear their stories from when they served."

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 21 million veterans in the U.S. and 413,618 veterans in Alabama, and, whether past or present, most military members agree there is a sense of comradery between veterans that passes through generations.

"One of the Air University's mission goals is to launch leaders of character, in order to build tomorrow's Airman today," said Lt. Gen. Steven L. Kwast, commander of Air University. "We must have reverence for all of our brothers and sisters in arms, past and present. It's stated in our Airman's Creed, "I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor. I cherish the opportunity to celebrate our service members, past and present, that's why we, as a community, make time for our veterans."