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Friday, 28 November, 2014 07:04:23 am Current Issue November 27, 2014
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 11:08:01 PM
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Giving Thanks
The Winkler Post for November 27, 2014
Giving Thanks
Patricia (PJ) Johnson and Army Veteran Teddy Rosario
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Claudie Benjamin, Public Affairs Specialist, VA New York Harbor Healthcare System - U.S. Veterans Health Administration ♦ November 26 2014 21:49:04

Patricia Johnson is helping to provide a few friends with a Thanksgiving dinner. About 110 of them, actually, all Veterans for whom she says, "We can't do enough."

The annual dinner at the NY Harbor Health Care System Mental Health Clinic is scheduled the day before Thanksgiving. As Johnson, known as "PJ" to her many friends, puts it, "We are thankful for the many freedoms these Veterans have given us. When I was in college, I could go dancing but these guys were in foxholes. I am just so thankful I can now do something for them."

A lot of Veterans who will be at the Thanksgiving dinner are also very thankful for PJ. Here's why.

When asked what skills are most useful in the Manhattan Psychosocial Clubhouse, Patricia Johnson responds by saying "empathy and hope."

Johnson, who coordinates the activities for the Clubhouse, is noted for her upbeat, poetic and bohemian artistic spirit. She is proud to have worked at VA for a number of years and is happy to have found her niche in coordinating the activities of the Clubhouse since the beginning of the program in 1993.

A few years ago, Johnson was run over by a car while undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. A broken pelvis and other serious injuries required nine months of rehabilitation in a nursing home. The experience strengthened her awareness of the importance of empathy and hope in recovery from physical and emotional trauma.

She welcomes all Veterans into the Clubhouse and is especially sensitive to those who may be struggling to just get through the day. Throughout her recovery, she would receive "visits" in the form of weekly phone calls from Veterans at the Clubhouse, encouraging her to recover and come back quickly.

"I came back with Access-a-Ride and a walker," she says. Today, thanks to physical therapy and a very positive attitude, PJ literally does a hop, skip and jump to demonstrate her full recovery.

"PJ is definitely the Clubhouse."

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