Once again I have been extremely impressed by the staff and residents at our local veterans home. Bert Ellard and the recreation and activities department showed their dedication to and love of the local people, the center residents and the community. They put on a Trick or Treat event with a carnival that was magnificent to say the least. This was not their first Halloween event but it was my first with them and this one was magnificent. Bert, Monique, Sandy, Robert, Sabrina, and Sherry organized and helped with the decorating of the building and held a contest allowing the residents to vote for their choice of best decorations. Wing 1C was the choice as the best in a hands down vote with 20 more votes than the 2nd place and 30 more votes than the 3rd place contestants. They also had a costume contest for residents and staff. Trick or Treat began at 6 p m with 540 kids and countless adults going through the center collecting more than 850 lbs of candy donated by staff members in a fine example of their generosity and love for people, many of which they don’t even know. In the auditorium they held a carnival with softball bowling, ring toss, boat races, and many other games for kids and12910302015 - Copy 10210302015 - Copyadults. They also had a petting zoo with rabbits, Hershey the Center’s pet duck, and an African Gray parrot that would spread and flap his wings like an eagle while sitting on arms, shoulders, or heads of guests.

I witnessed several veteran residents handing out candy to costumed children and I really can’t say who enjoyed the event more, the residents or the kids. I was located in one spot for the evening, being assigned as a “doorstop” at the end of the 2nd floor line. The stairwell doors are punch pad coded for safety so I held the door so the Trick or Treaters could get to the stairs to get to the 3rd floor. The last of the line passed my station about 8 p. m. and I then went down to the carnival to see if I could help there but they were well-staffed with other volunteers, including a large group of local scouts. The carnival ended about 8:30 or so but I left shortly before then as I was very tired from my day and not really needed there. I know there were prizes at the carnival but I don’t know what all they were. I know they had candy and glow necklaces as prizes but don’t know what else they had as I 14110302015 - Copywasn’t there very long and mostly paid attention to the events rather than the prizes. As usual with activities at the center, a good time was had by all, residents, volunteers, guests, and staff. As I stated in a previous item about the Veterans Center, the people there are top notch and a credit to the community and the Veteran’s Administration as a whole. Once again, when you hear of all the bad things about this branch of government realize that the people at the Claremore facility are not the ones you are hearing about. These people, residents and staff, are some of the finest people I have ever known and they deserve the admiration and respect of all of us. I know that making assumptions can be dangerous or embarrassing but I confidently assume the people at other local centers are close to as good as the Claremore crew, although I can’t imagine any being better. I have not been to other centers but I know the people in Oklahoma as I have lived in this state all of my 65 years except for the three years I spent in the United States Army. I also assume that those who serve our veterans in other states are of similar quality. I make the assumption about other local VA personnel because I understand the qualities it takes to do what they do and I know the type of people drawn to serving their veterans. It is humbling, and both an honor and a pleasure to be able to associate with such fine people.

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I submit this in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, in faith, with the responsibility given to me by Almighty God to honor His work and not let it die from neglect.

Bob Russell

Claremore, Oklahoma

November 5, 2015

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About Bob Russell

Graduated from Classen High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in May, 1968. Enlisted in the U S Army on December 11, 1968, serving 3 years in the 7th Special Forces Group as a Heavy Weapons Expert, attaining the rank of Sgt. E 5. upon separation went to work at Southwestern Bell Telephone on January 17, 1972 and retired on August 31, 2003. Also spent 1 year on active reserve as a member of the 14th Special Forces Group. attaining the rank of Staff Sgt. E6. started and operated a business installing wiring for telephone, data, and video surveillance systems from October 2003 until December 2011. Suffered a debilitating stroke on August 19, 2014. Now recovering and doing volunteer work at the Claremore, Oklahoma Veterans Center. Attends church in Claremore at CedarPoint and LifeChanger churches. Married to wife Marsha since August 2, 1989 with 4 daughters and a deceased son, 12 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.


  1. Bob, I particularly loved this…..My daughter, Monique’ is with Rolling Thunder and I believe she may be the one you mentioned. She and husband Mark ‘thrive’ on their work with veterans.

    • The Monique I mentioned is the activities director at the center. what is you daughter’s last name? I appreciate their work for veterans, wherever it is. God Bless all of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!