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FARGO, N.D. – The North Dakota American Legion Department Commander, Dave Rice, will present the Fargo VA Health Care System with a $16,000 donation, Oct. 6 at 9 a.m., at the Fargo VA Medical Center. The donation, to be used in the development of the Fargo VA HCS’s Healing Gardens, is one of the largest monetary donations the Fargo VA HCS has ever received from a service organization. The donation became a project of Rice’s upon his being named Department Commander. “I was trying to decide where to designate my project funds while preparing my bid for Department Commander,” Rice said. “When I heard the Fargo VA was going to construct a Healing Gardens on their grounds for our Veterans, I decided in an instant that we needed to donate.” The Healing Gardens – construction scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2016 – will feature walking paths, raised gardens, a parade lawn, a pergola, gazebos, and sitting areas. “When completed, the Healing Gardens will be an incredible space for Veterans, their families, and visitors for not only rehabilitation, activities, and convalescence, but also for simply fellowshipping or enjoying a moment of respite,” said Dale DeKrey, Fargo VA HCS Acting Director. “This donation on behalf of the North Dakota American Legion will without a doubt improve the well-being of Veterans, service members, their families, and their survivors.” Rice’s oldest brother John, an Army Veteran, was hospitalized at the Fargo VA Medical Center for a short time and died there in June of 2008. Being the only sibling in the area, Rice visited his brother often. On one occasion, Rice, along with his other brother and sister, took John outside in a wheelchair to get some fresh air. Being a farmer and working outside a lot, they knew John would enjoy it. But when they got outside, there was no ideal place to relax, visit and enjoy some fresh air.“Learning of the Healing Gardens brought back those memories and how I wished there were Healing Gardens during my brother’s stay there,” Rice said. “We can’t change history but we can make it better for future Veterans. I received a lot of support to get donations.” The North Dakota American Legion Auxiliary allocated a portion of their fundraising to Rice’s efforts as well. Media interested in attending the event must contact the Fargo VA HCS Public Affairs Office at (701) 239-3724 to RSVP no later than 4 p.m. on Oct. 5. Officials with the Fargo VA HCS and North Dakota American Legion will be on hand for interviews. (Tweten,Ross Fargo VAHCS news release 10/2/2015).

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