Christmas for soldiers

By Nikki Blankenship -

It is that time of year again, when people such as veteran John Foster, feel the need to reach out and lessen another’s burden. For Foster, the focus has always been to help people but to specifically help veterans who struggle after sacrificing years of their lives for country.

With Christmas fast approaching, Foster would like to make sure that veterans and their families has a Christmas dinner, recognition for their serviced and gifts for their children. Each year, Foster holds a special service for veterans and their families to honor them for their services.

The event is offered through the Lance Cpl. Jonathan Etterling Annual Memorial Christmas Program. During the event, there is a special speaker, songs and each veteran is presented with a special medal. After the service, there is a nice hot Christmas Dinner served to the veterans and their families. Santa is on hand for pictures with the children and to give them a small gift. Before leaving, each family is given a food basket and toys for their children to have Christmas at home. This year’s deadline to participate is Thanksgiving day. Any veteran that wishes to participate in the program is encouraged to sign up by going to and follow the instructions provided.

The Lance Cpl. Jonathan E. Etterling Memorial Christmas Banquet is made possible through support from Living with a Causes, Andy Glockner, Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC), New Life Family Worship Center and Veterans Helping 2005.

The program is named after Jonathan Etterling, a Marine from Wheelersburg, who died along with 30 others that were on a mission in Iraq in 2005 when their helicopter was shot down. The Christmas program in his name has been ongoing since.

Veterans Helping was founded by John Foster to help struggling veterans and their families as well as widows and widowers of veterans. In the past, Foster has assisted veterans with groceries, bills, sent care packages to troops in foreign countries and even helped disabled veterans with healthcare equipment.

Foster served his country during the Vietnam War in the later 60s. Though he never actually served in Vietnam, he was trained and on standby ready to go at any time. He remembers his fellow soldiers being treated badly when they returned home. Still, he sees veterans struggling – fighting to get the benefits due to them and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is why he started Veterans Helping.

For more information about Veterans Helping, visit or for assistance, email

By Nikki Blankenship

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.