U-Haul, Tribute Journey Spread Valentine’s Day Love to Veterans

Feb 22, 2024

February 14 is not just Valentine’s Day. It is recognized as a National Salute to Veteran Patients day.

During Valentine’s Day week each year, U-Haul and the Tribute Journey say “thank you” to veterans of the U.S. Armed Services who are cared for in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes. This is done through the delivery of special Tribute Journey greeting cards.

Tribute Journey greeting cards are expressions of appreciation, handcrafted by longtime U-Haul charity partner Kathryn Cross, a U.S. Navy Gold Star Mother and founder of the Tribute Journey. The cards also serve as a tribute to her son, OSSN Tyler J. Connely, who gave his life serving his country.

U-Haul has printed and shipped over 2 million Tribute Journey cards over the last 15 years.

Special Delivery

Plenty of love was in the air as Cross and U-Haul Team Members teamed up to hand-deliver thousands of custom-made greeting cards across two states.

Team Members from the U-Haul Companies of Coastal Connecticut, Long Island, and Brooklyn/Queens/Staten Island hand-delivered 2,800 Tribute Journey cards and Valentine’s Day goody bags to veterans at local VA medical centers in their respective regions. 

“For a large portion of my working career, I was a CNA and many of my clients were veterans,” said Leah Cummings, Traffic Control Manager for U-Haul Company of Coastal Connecticut. “This spearheaded my love for volunteer work and helping others. I will always cherish this day, as it reminds me of how good it feels to provide simple services and reminds us of all of the sacrifices others have made on our behalf.”

U-Haul marketing company president Michael Nadraus and his team were equally excited to show the veterans a little love and appreciation.

“My entire team loved it and were beaming about the experience for days afterward,” Nadraus said. “We went to be a blessing, but we ended up getting blessed ourselves by getting to meet the veterans. The smiles when they got the cards and candy were priceless.

“If it were not for these brave men and women standing up and giving their all in the years past, we would not be able to enjoy the freedoms we have and the America we love so dearly today.”

Tribute Journey Impact

Cross has been making cards for veterans since 2009, a labor of love she began in the memory of her son. Cross began the Tribute Journey to communicate to service members, past and present, that they will never be forgotten.

“The magic that unveiled as we walked the wards of the VAs together was indescribable,” Cross said. “I am so proud and honored to have the privilege of being part of the U-Haul teams who have done this with me for the past 16 years.”

With help from a caring group of Gold and Blue Star families who came together in Old Say Brook, CT, an additional 14,000 Valentine’s Day Tribute Journey cards were packed and mailed to 80 VA hospitals throughout the country.

A significant portion of U-Haul Company’s community outreach goes toward honoring veterans and supporting veterans’ organizations, as well as causes like the Tribute Journey. U-Haul, the original veterans moving company, was founded by a WWII Navy veteran and his wife in 1945. Today, U-Haul actively recruits veterans to its workforce and gives them preference in the hiring process.

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