You know, Santa really is a patriot because every year around the holidays, soldiers from the 11th ACR and Santa Claus march 38 miles from the Fort Irwin National Training Center to the CalVet Veterans Home in Barstow.
The Army brings holiday cheer and gifts honoring the facility’s nearly 200 residents. The soldiers and Santa leave the training center at dawn, hike through the desert and then camp on the outskirts of Barstow.
The following morning, the march ends at the Veterans Home. Marchers are greeted by local veterans, Veterans Home residents and staff and guests who are watching from the hilltop and lining the main drive to the Home. The soldiers are treated to a luncheon and a chance to swap stories with other Veterans Home residents which must be an enormous joy to everyone. What a wonderful holiday tradition!
The Veterans Home of California in Barstow is one of eight homes for older and disabled veterans and the program is operated through CalVet. The facility in Barstow opened in 1996 and it has 220 beds. The site is located on 22 acres of land and the program provides skilled nursing, intermediate care and independent living facilities to qualified veterans and their spouses.
What a wonderful idea and way to help those who have helped this country. May they all have a blessed Christmas and a great new year.