Christmas comes early for local veterans

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BONHAM, TX -- Santa came early for more than 80 veterans Saturday at the Sam Rayburn Memorial Veterans Center in Bonham.

Jess Johnson and dozens of volunteers spent Saturday afternoon letting these veterans know they are appreciated.

"This has to do with attempting to know that they're cared about. They're not on the back burner with us. They're very important. They stood up at the plate when their nation called, and it is only right that we give them the very best we have," Johnson said.

Johnson is a Vietnam veteran and the founder of "Vet to Vet", a non profit organization that assists disabled veterans. This is the 20th year "Vet to Vet" has brought some Christmas cheer to area VA hospitals.

"These guys look forward to this. Every year they look forward to it. They just love it," hospital employee Major Gilbert Martinez said.

These men and women got to dig into a big lunch, but it was what was provided afterwards that brought a lot of joy. Blankets, socks, jackets and more.

"There you go young man. I hope you like that. Isn't that pretty?"
"Yeah, I like that."

"Thank the Lord and thank the people that bought it and paid for it. Thank them," one veteran said.

"I think somebody is pretty generous," a veteran said.

Veterans of all ages were able to pick out a few items. Johnson shook the hand of all 88 veterans, telling each one, one thing...

"You know what I say is 'I thank you for your service', because every one who served, served to protect the freedoms that made this country great," Johnson said. "There'll always be veterans and there'll always be veterans in need."

Because of that, Johnson doesn't plan to end this holiday tradition anytime soon.

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