“Dear friends, many of our veterans live alone in long-term care facilities. This Valentine’s Day, they’d love to hear from you,” a message from the Canadian Forces in the United States Twitter account said in an appeal on Friday.
“It would mean so very much.”
Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay echoed the call, saying he has seen first-hand how veterans benefit from the recognition.
“When somebody is alone in an institution and gets a card from a kid saying thank you, it puts a smile on their face,” he told Global News.
“I encourage people to say, ‘Thank you for what you did.'”
Valentines for Vets, according to the Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) website, began in 1989 after columnist Ann Landers asked readers to send greetings to veterans at long-term care facilities in Canada and in the United States.
In 1996, VAC formally became involved in the program — working to distribute cards across the country.
“Though Ann Landers passed away in 2002, VAC is committed to continuing her project of thanking veterans. At VAC we invite Canadians, young and old, to send valentines to our head office,” the website said.
“Your continued participation is what makes the Valentines for Vets program such a huge success.”
In the days before Valentine’s Day, the Valentines for Vets program sorts and distributes the cards and messages to veterans across Canada.
Officials asked that gifts such as candy and chocolates not be included with cards. Also, cards with sparkles or other materials that could break off were discouraged.
Although store-bought cards are welcomed, officials said hand-made cards “make veterans feel extra special.”
As for potential messages, residents were encouraged to write a poem (such as In Flanders Fields or Roses are Red), why veterans are important, why they wanted to wish a veteran a Happy Valentine’s Day, and/or a thank you for past service.
Residents who want to send cards were asked to do before Feb. 1 to ensure messages could be processed in time. Cards that arrive after the deadline will be distributed in 2021.
Here is the mailing address:
Valentines for Vets
Commemoration and distribution unit, Veterans Affairs Canada
125 Maple Hills Ave.
Charlottetown, P.E.I. C1C 0B6