'It's still family,' VFW Post 360 serves free Thanksgiving meal to veterans

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MISHAWAKA, Ind. --For the first time, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 360 in Mishawaka served a free Thanksgiving meal for any veteran and their family. Organizers said they hope this becomes a long-time tradition.

"They've given a lot, sacrificed a lot, and a lot of them don't have family at home any longer, so it felt right to me to give them a place to come," said Danny Gann, post commander.  

A free Thanksgiving dinner was served to roughly 40 veterans Thursday.

"It's still family," Gann said. "It may not be the ones that we were born into, but it’s the ones we chose."

The free meal was funded entirely through community donations.

"It makes your heart warm," Gann said. "It makes me tear up a little bit."

Danny Gann spent 23 years in the army between active duty and the reserves and retired as a first sergeant.

"I give back now," he said. "I no longer wear the uniform, but, it still hangs in my closet and reminds me to give back to other people."

As post commander, he said he is grateful to the community for giving back to the ones who serve our country.

"I think our community, especially here in Mishawaka, has done a great job at supporting our veterans," he said.

Veterans like Raymond Gervais.

"I was drafted out of high school," he said.

From Riley High School in South Bend, Gervais went on to serve in World War II.

"Did D-Day in Okinawa, April 1, Easter Sunday," Gervais said.

Gervais is now 96 years old, and spent the holiday with his children and his other family.

"We're all brothers," he said. "Way back, 1776, female and male, we're all brothers and sisters. We honor everybody, and it's great to have these young guys come out and do this stuff for us."

Organizations like the VFW give people like Gervais the camaraderie they can only find with others who served.

"You're surrounded by veterans," he said. "You can feel them. And in between those, you can feel the guys that never came back home."  

For Gann, it is more important than ever to give veterans a place to gather, especially when WWII veterans are a dying breed.

"Well, it keeps them alive, you know, it helps with their spirit," Gann said.

But no matter what, their service will never be forgotten.

From all of us at ABC57 News, we thank our veterans for their service.

It’s the season to give thanks, and it's the season to give back.

To learn more about veteran outreach, visit these resources:

VFW events and fundraisers 

Wounded Warrior Project 

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