Christmas cards for Navy veteran in hospital during holidays

OMAHA, Neb. - An Omaha woman has a simple Christmas wish - to bring a tradition to her father who can not be home for the holidays.

"Matter of fact - if you call the VA in Grand Island and you talk to the nurses - they all know him, he's just a jokester and he's one that keeps the mood light," said Victoria Novak, daughter of Navy veteran Joe Arellano. 

Victoria Novak's father, Joe Arellano, has spent much of the last year in and out of the Veterans Medical Center in Grand Island. Knee surgery complications have kept the 71-year-old Navy Veteran in the hospital and wheelchair bound, but he never loses his smile. 

"He tells jokes He always has a smile," said Novak."I want to see him get back to this really happy-go-lucky person and I want to see him home."

After missing Thanksgiving and now Christmas and New Year's, Novak wanted to bring a holiday tradition straight to the VA with a flurry of handwritten notes. 

"So, I created an event and I said from now until Christmas, I'd love to see how many people can send cards," said Novak. 

Novak created a Facebook invite to spread Christmas cheer. The small gesture in the spirit of giving is growing with students at Millard and Omaha Public Schools sending their own snail mail and there's Yuletide deliveries from his granddaughter's ROTC platoon in Milwaukee. 

"There are moments when I'm just sitting there and I kind of welled up today because I humbly just wanted to get a couple cards to him....and I want him to be happy," said Novak. 

It's a message about the true meaning of the holidays; cherishing those you hold dear.

"You don't have your family forever, And he's my dad and I want to see him happy and have any opportunity possible to just be a part of his life," said Novak. 

If you would like to send a Christmas card to Joe Arellano and the veterans at the Grand Island VA, you can mail to the following address:

Attn: Joe Arellano
VA Medical Center
2201 N. Broadwell Ave
Room #SW 306
Grand Island, NE 68803-2196

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