Masons honor veterans at nursing home in Cleveland, Tennessee

Masons honor veterans at nursing home in Cleveland, Tennessee

February 12th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Staff Photo by Randall Higgins/Chattanooga Times Free Press Clyde Caldwell, left, and Bob Pelfrey, members of Dayton Lodge 512 F&AM, greet veterans at the Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. They belong to a Masonic veterans group called National Sojourners who will be presenting a monthly patriotic program at the nursing home in Cleveland, Tenn.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A monthly program launched this week will honor some of the most senior of Bradley County's veterans.

While work continues toward bringing a veterans nursing home to Southeast Tennessee, some veterans are cared for at Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, the county's nursing home.

Clyde Caldwell and Bob Pelfrey, members of Dayton Lodge 512 F&AM, started the patriotic series Thursday at the center by telling America's story through the changes in the nation's flag. They are members of a Masonic veterans group called National Sojourners.

Jerry Venable, an Army Vietnam veteran, a Mason and member of Chattanooga's Temple 430, coordinates the program.

"We want them to know their service is remembered and appreciated," Venable said.

"The program is not just for veterans here at the nursing home," he said. "Any veteran is welcome. If they don't have transportation, we will arrange to provide it."

Programs are scheduled for the second Tuesday of each month at the nursing home on Peerless Road. Thursday's program, from January, was delayed by snow.

Future programs include presentations by the National Medal of Honor Museum, a former guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the Chattanooga National Cemetery, the Rolling Thunder motorcycle group and, on Flag Day in June, presentation of the colors by the Alhambra Legion of Honor.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, announced proposed legislation that would create a special license plate to honor veterans.

Money from the sale of those license plates would be allocated to the Tennessee Veterans Home Board to be used to help with start-up costs for a Bradley County veterans nursing home.

"It is important that we recognize our veterans and continually thank them for their service, and the new Bradley County veterans home will do just that," Watson said, announcing the proposed legislation.

Joe Davis, Bradley County veterans affairs officer, said the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council, created to bring a nursing home here, has private funding commitment and land available. The project keeps moving upward on the U.S. Veterans Administration priority list, he said.

A program to sell American flags to display on the courthouse lawn on special occasions to honor or remember a veteran has been a success, Davis said. That fund also supports bringing the nursing home here.

Contact Randall Higgins at or 423-314-1029.