The Perry Point Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center now has a beautiful, new gazebo on its grounds as the result of an Eagle Scout project. "I knew I wanted to do something special to show Veterans how much I appreciate all they have done to protect our country and I thought the gazebo would provide them with a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors," said James Heuser, a Boy Scout with Troop 828 in Lutherville, Md.
At 14 years old, Heuser signed up to become a summer youth volunteer at the encouragement of his parents. Now at 16, Heuser’s VA volunteer experience has included time spent playing checkers and cards, writing letters, and listening to Veterans share their wartime experiences in a long term care unit at the Perry Point VA Medical Center and at the Loch Raven VA Community Living & Rehabilitation Center.
It was during his first volunteering experience that Heuser developed the concept for his Eagle Scout Project, which has taken two years to come to fruition. "I have learned so much during the past two years about how to plan a construction project, but most of all, how many people are willing to work together on a project that benefits hospitalized Veterans," said Heuser.
With the guidance and support of staff at the Perry Point VA Medical Center, with additional assistance from members of AmeriCorps, a Pennsylvania-based construction contractor, his fellow Boy Scout troop and family members, Heuser produced a gazebo design that included everything from computer-aided design (CAD) drawings to the final digging of the footers and assembly of the gazebo. Located in front of Building 25H, one of Perry Point’s community living centers, the new gazebo is already providing a wonderful outdoor environment for the residents to enjoy.
Heuser raised nearly $16,000 for his Eagle Scout project with the support of the American Legion Post 22 in Towson, Md., along with many other Veterans service organizations and individual contributors throughout the state.
"James has performed a stellar job in working with VA staff to create a structure that is the most appropriate for patient use, including wheelchair access and benches for seating," said Betsy Bradford, business manager for the Geriatrics and Extended Care Clinical Center for the VA Maryland Health Care System.
"I am so grateful to all the people who have guided and encouraged me along the way to reach my goal," said Heuser. "I hope that the gazebo will continue to serve as a peaceful place where Veterans can go to enjoy the company of their fellow comrades and family members," he added.