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News | Jan. 5, 2017

Employees volunteer, form friendships at local VA center

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

NASHUA, N.H., Jan. 5, 2017 — Defense Contract Management Agency employees often enjoy helping others, including volunteering to help veterans play bingo at the local Veterans Administration Medical Center’s Community Living Center in Manchester.

Although it was a game, the group was competitive. Those in attendance quickly scanned the room trying to identify the winner each time at the center’s most eagerly anticipated activity. The proclamation was quickly repeated, and during one of the games, a veteran wearing a baseball cap labeled “WWII Veteran” declared with a grin, “bingo!”

Such was the scene replicated numerous times and witnessed by 12 DCMA BAE Systems employees and their family and friends who volunteered at the center Nov. 6 and 12 in honor of Veterans Day. Approximately 20 veterans from the center attended each event.

Volunteers performed different functions, including passing out and collecting bingo cards, validating the winning cards, and presenting prizes. Volunteers also assisted the veterans in other ways, such as identifying numbers for those with impaired vision or calling out “bingo” for participants who were not able to do so. But the highlight for the volunteers was talking to the veterans, listening to their stories and developing new friendships.

Air Force Maj. Joe La Monica, a support program integrator, enjoyed volunteering and said he would do it again.

“While at the event, I happened to strike up a conversation with a veteran who served in World War II,” said La Monica. “He shared stories of how he took part in the European invasion and how he later served as a member of the cadre taking care of German prisoners of war at a camp located in the U.S.”

Paul Curley, a contracts team lead and Coast Guard veteran, said he formed a bond with another Coast Guard veteran. “Most of the next hour was spent swapping stories about places we served and positions we held,” said Curley.

Jessica Green, a contract administrator, assisted a Marine veteran during the event.

“I enjoyed hearing his stories, and he kept me laughing the entire evening,” said Green. “I can’t wait to go again.”

Since bonds were developed between the volunteers and residents, DCMA employees plan to volunteer again in 2017. One of the volunteers, Roger Fitzgerald, a software assurance specialist, has already returned to visit residents he met during the previous outreach events.

“Although bingo continues to be a highlight for the veterans who reside at the center, the secret to these events are more than the prizes handed out,” said Paul Bertoncini, director of DCMA BAE Systems. “The events seemed to be more about forming friendships and sharing time together. There was even a sense of esprit de corps formed. Most of all, it was time well spent.”