The Baltimore resident volunteers two days a week at the Loch Raven VA Community Living & Rehabilitation Center, a facility within the VA Maryland Health Care System, providing rehabilitation to Maryland veterans.
"I generally work five hours a day," Dicks said. "I work in the therapy department. We give them exercise. We give them therapy to get them ready to go home."
Dicks and five others were honored in November by Rep.
"I commend these volunteers for bringing joy and happiness to the lives of the men and women who served our country," Ruppersberger said in a statement marking his ninth year giving the honors. Recipients are chosen by the Veterans Advisory Council, an advocacy organization Ruppersberger founded in 2003 to promote policies for veterans, active troops and military families.
Sirera, 79, who lives in Carney and has been a Knights of Columbus member for 46 years, was recognized for the bingo games he organizes for veterans, giving cash prizes and refreshments.
"It gives them a diversion and an understanding that there are people who respect what they have done," said Sirera. The games, held the third Friday of the month at the Loch Raven center, attract 25 to 30 participants, he said.
"It's all part of reaching out to our neighbors and to vets who really do so much, especially those who have seen combat," said Sirera, who joined the Air Force right out of high school, during the
Edwards, who lives in Baltimore, volunteers at the Paul L. Thompson Post of the
Dicks, who has been part of the Northeastern American Legion Post 285 for 20-plus years, was born in South Carolina, but moved to Baltimore in 1946, after serving during World War II. Stationed on Staten island in New York, he was working on a barge when his left hand was severely injured. Even today, he said, the hand is not 100 percent better, but that didn't keep Dicks from working as a pipe-fitter at Koppers, retiring in 1987.
After his wife, Essie Dicks, passed away in 2000 after 49 years of marriage, "I had some leisure time on my hands," Dicks said. He decided to "put it to good use," and filled out an application to volunteer at the Loch Raven facility. He has been helping out regularly since 2006.
Most of the people he works with are either elderly or were injured recently in combat, he said. He enjoys working with them all, because everyone has "a different story to talk about," he said. "We introduce ourselves to one another and have a nice time."