EDISON, NJ - On Jan. 8, three students at Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School went to the Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home in Edison, New Jersey.

Jiya Mody, Aarush Kumar, and Milan Patel have been working to organize the outreach event for a while. Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School is heavily involved with an organization called SkillsUSA. One of the projects which various students from across the country compete in is American Spirit. American Spirit is a project which includes the conducting of three projects each of which promotes either patriotism and citizenship, community service, or career and technical education.

For their patriotism and citizenship project, the students decided to visit a veterans home and play bingo as well as other games with them while also interacting with them and talking to them about their experiences serving our country. \

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The Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home is a government officiated building, meant for American Veterans. The goals of the VA is to honor and serve the military veterans, their spouses, and gold star parents, by providing the highest quality of resident, directed long term care by maintaining excellence in personal treatment and services, and treatment through personal collaboration, innovation, and dedication. The home is open to veterans who were honorably discharged from U.S. war or peacetime services, the veteran’s spouse and parents of members of the military who were killed in action during a period of war.

Through the research the students did, they found out that, typically, veterans who remain socially active through activities such as bingo exhibit better health, happier lives, and have a lower risk of loneliness or depression, lower blood pressure, and stronger immune systems. Connecting with others and making friendships through such social activities also gives seniors something to look forward to.

The students were able to meaningfully connect with many veterans and thank them for their service to the community. They look forward to going back to the veterans’ memorial home soon and giving letters to the veterans thanking them for their service or just volunteering again.