Capital District Council Jingle Bells

By COL Rich Goldenberg, Post 105

ALBANY, N.Y. – More than a dozen members of the JWV Capital District Council
came together on Christmas Eve this year for the annual JWV “Operation
Jingle Bells,” visiting with dozens of patients at the Stratton VA Medical
Center here December 24, 2017.

The event dates back for decades when JWV would visit with patients and
staff at the VA and distribute phone cards for veterans to make
long-distance calls to family over the Christmas holiday, explained Past
Post Commander Dr. Howard Pressman, DDS, the coordinator of the event.

The spread of cell phones made the holiday distribution of phone cards
unnecessary more than 15 years ago, Pressman said. Today, JWV distributes
coupons for patient use at the hospital canteen or exchange, where veterans
can purchase snacks or sundries.

“As times changed, so did JWV,” Pressman said.

Pressman worked full-time at the VA for more than three dozen years, and
annually leads the effort to identify patients unable to be discharged,
meeting with each ward’s nursing staff the day before Christmas Eve to
identify how many patients will still be under the hospital’s care for the

“No veteran should be alone for the Christmas holiday,” noted Albany Post
105 Commander Fred Altman. “This is a terrific mitzvah to share our best
wishes with the VA staff and patients of all faiths who are unable to be
home for the holiday.”

Operation Jingle Bells is the high point of JWV efforts during the holiday
season. Support in the veterans’ community ranged from volunteers helping
load Christmas Trees bound for military installations for the annual Trees
for Troops program and the financial donation to place holiday wreaths at
the local national cemetery at veteran headstones for Wreaths Across

Operation Jingle Bells is one of the most satisfying JWV outreach events,
Pressman said, because of the one on one interactions with fellow veterans
in need.

“One year, we were at the hospital and when a patient asked who we were
during the visit, I explained that we were the Jewish War Veterans and
offering our support,” Pressman said. “The veteran took one look at our JWV
caps and said he couldn’t accept our phone cards because he wasn’t Jewish.”

After a brief laugh and explanation about JWV’s commitment to all veterans
of all faiths during the Christmas season, the patient was happy to receive
the gift from JWV, Pressman explained.

The holiday season is all about sharing joy, Altman said, and there’s no
better way to do that than with our fellow veterans who can’t be home for

Back row from left, Post 105 Commander Fred Altman, Joe Weitzman, Howard
Pressman, Bert Isen, Victor Reiner, Linda Woodward Stein, Post 106
Quartermaster Gary Hoffman, Post 106 Commander Paul Zonderman. Front row
from left, Kelly Goldenberg, Alexa Goldenberg, Post 105 Adjutant Rich
Goldenberg, Hatti Wang and Post 105 Quartermaster Lance Wang.  Courtesy

Volume 72. Number 1. Spring 2018

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