A veteran who has made it his mission to assist residents at the Northport VA Medical Center homeless shelter has been named Legionnaire of the Year 2021 by the American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244.
Albert Statton II, who also serves in the Greenlawn Fire Department, founded “Operation Enduring Care” to supply veterans living in the shelter with such basic items as personal hygiene and comfort items, gently used clothing, packaged new underwear, socks and non-perishable meals.
At the time, the Greenlawn resident was struggling to survive and recover from several forms of malignant cancers. His trips to drop off items at the shelter helped put a positive touch on appointments for follow up surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
The post began sponsoring the growing program five years ago, providing needed items to assist veterans that are inpatients, in danger of being homeless or facing life altering health conditions.
Being named legionnaire of the year “was a very pleasant surprise,” the father of five said. “We kind of take for granted with all the negative politics and behavior that it looks like a lot of people don’t care,” he said. “It seems to me as a father the current generation has a crop of role models on the border of good and bad. In my opinion, you should be the good. The firefighters and rescuers and the first responders are all showing us what qualities we should have.”
Statton has served in the Greenlawn Fire Department for more than 31 years. He also served in the U.S. Army for 20 years, rising to the rank of sergeant first class In the military, he started out as a combat medic and then attended Baylor University to become a medical lab tech. He finished his career as a senior combat medic.
Statton continues to provide for the residents at the Northport Veterans Residence, which is managed by United Veterans Beacon House. And twice a month, Statton and his wife, Connie, provide needed personal care items to inpatients in the Community Living Centers at the VA. They include the elderly, infirm and terminally ill veterans of all war eras since World War II. The VA does not provide the residents with these items, so anything the veterans need must be donated.
“I try to help those who are picked up off the street, transiting from hospital to the shelter and also the in-patients who do not have funds to buy toileteries,” he said. “A lot of older veterans have outlived their families, so it’s hard. We also take care of some who are in hospice.”
Statton arranged the donation of 32 TV’s to the hospital. “They previously had TV’s the size of toasters,” he said. “So I worked with one of the local big-box stores, purchasing them at cost.”
“Operation Enduring Care,” sponsored by American Legion Post 1244, is donation-driven. More information is available here: www.post1244.org/operationenduringcare