Chris Anastassatos served his country for 36 years. The retired colonel is thankful he was never injured, but he knows too many vets who were: "In the Iraq and Afghanistan wars there have been a lot of limbs that were lost, and those who have lost their legs are in wheelchairs."
When they do come home, and try to get used to life in a wheelchair, they need something rather simple that will prevent a lot of pain…leather gloves. Anastassatos told us, "With these, when they roll their wheelchairs they don't get hand-burned or blisters or anything. We make gloves for them."
It's a unique program that takes some of the pain away from those recovering from battle. Today (Monday), the Reno Elks Club took delivery of 2 barrels full of game hides and a box of pelts donated by hunters and put them on a truck, where they will go to a tannery that will process and cut and sew those hides into hundreds of leather gloves for veterans.
The government does not budget money for leather wheelchair gloves. It falls upon David Pressler and his fellow Reno Elks Lodge members to keep the supply line open and make it happen. He told us, "These hides are from northern Nevada, and they're going to Arkansas to be tanned, and then they will be distributed throughout the veterans hospitals."
This "Veterans Leather Program" started in 1948, but it's more important now than ever before. There are more injured soldiers coming home. Due to better medical care in battlefields, there are more injured, fewer dead. As Anastassatos told us, "In the Vietnam war, a lot of people lost their lives. But now due to airlift and capabilities, we're saving a lot of the veterans."
Which is great news, but the retired colonel knows the VA hospitals are full, and so many are getting used to wheelchairs...veterans who responded to our country's needs. He and his friends at the Elks Lodge say it's only fitting that we respond, to theirs.
The Reno Elks collect deer hides during hunting season and send their hides every February, with help from Con-Way Freight. The leather gloves the veterans receive come free of charge.
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