12th Air Force Airmen particpate in Tucson "Day of Caring" Published Oct. 12, 2007 By Diane M. Kephart Desert Lightning News Staff Writer Tucson, Ariz. -- More than 600 D-M Airmen from the 355th Fighter Wing and 12th Air Force volunteered their time Saturday to give back to the community at more than 19 locations throughout Tucson. The 36-event project, which included painting, construction, landscaping and a visit to the Geriatric Rehabilitation Center, allowed Airmen to meet the needs of the community. Members of the 43rd Electronic Combat Squadron grilled and served hamburgers and hotdogs Saturday at the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Healthcare System's 4th annual "Day of Caring" picnic for the Geriatric Rehabilitation Center patients and their families. Master Sgt. Joe Richards, 43rd ECS, said, "We had a base-wide effort to have more than 500 volunteers at several different Day of Caring projects today, and we exceeded that goal." He said many Airmen brought their spouses and kids with them so they could "make it a family day and teach kids to give back to veterans and to the community." Daniel Fox, an SAVAHCS inpatient, served in the Army from 1970 to 1971. He said, "It's nice to have your family out here with you." His family, who came out to eat with him, said they appreciated the volunteers' efforts. "It is nice to get out here with family - with grandpa," said 12-year old Colten Johnson. "It's nice for the (Airmen) to do this for others." More than 40 D-M and West Press Publications volunteers served food to more than 200 people, escorted patients and visited with the veterans and their families. The United Way's "Day of Caring" is a community-wide event, which pairs volunteers from Tucson's corporate community with local nonprofit organizations to work on one-time service projects. Participating organizations are matched with volunteers from the community and local businesses who choose to give their time and services in an effort to impact the community's needs. Saturday, the SAVAHCS will host an Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom "Welcome Home" veterans and family event from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. The purpose of this OEF/OIF Event will be to inform veterans and their families of the benefits available to them and to assist them with the readjustment and transition back into civilian life, said Pepe Mendoza, SAVAHCS deputy chief of public affairs. The Southern Arizona VA Health Care System will join the Veterans Benefits Administration, VA Center, Arizona Department of Economic Security and Wounded Warrior program representatives for this event. Representatives will also be available from SAVAHCS with information from Eligibility and Enrollment, New Patient Clinic, Primary Care, Women's Health Clinic, Substance Abuse Treatment Program, Homeless Program, Polytrauma Network Site, South West Blind Rehabilitation Center, Spinal Cord Injury Clinic, OEF/OIF Program, Human Resources, MOVE program and MyHealthe Vet. There will be a guest speaker, a tour of both the Ambulatory Care Addition building 80 and a tour of the Polytrauma Network Site area. This program's focus will be the OEF/OIF veterans, their families, active duty personnel, and those wanting to know more about OEF/OIF benefits, he said. For more information, call 629-1819.