The following blog originally appeared on the Battle Creek VA Medical Center’s website.

Do you need a hug? Most often the answer was yes, okay or sure.

The Human Hug Project visited the Battle Creek VA Medical Center and Wyoming Health Care Center on July 27-29 where they announced a pilot program to expand the reach, and power, of a hug.

Individually, the founders of this project are three people with three different lives. But they are also three faces of PTSD. Together, they are the Human Hug Project. They stopped by our facilities as they travel across the country offering a different type of healing, by giving out free hugs.

Ian Michael is a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Gino Greganti is a Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. Erin Greganti is a Marine Corps wife who experienced war and its aftermath at home. Together they know the anxiety and isolation faced by combat Veterans who return home from war – because they face it in our own lives.

The Human Hug Project’s mission to travel the country and give away free hugs to Veterans at VA hospitals and others in the community.  Human Hug Project has visited 36 VA medical centers, where Veterans and staff welcome them with open arms. “Our hugs are simple reminders that our heroes are appreciated and loved,” shares Michael.

The Human Hug Project is partnering with the Battle Creek VA Medical Center and Wyoming Health Care Center to launch a first in the nation, the Hug Ambassador Program.  This is a pilot program to help expand their reach beyond an initial visit to a medical center.

It will allow a small group of volunteers to be trained and sign a “huggreement” to represent the Human Hug Project locally various times throughout the year.  The project focusses on listening to Veterans stories, welcoming them home and thanking them for their service.

The Battle Creek VA is also partnering with LZ Michigan for LZ Michigan 2017.  This event will remember, honor and celebrate Veterans off all eras and welcome them home.  The goal is to reach 15,000 people at this event which will occur at 5/3 Ballpark in Grand Rapids on September 23, 2017.

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Blog prepared by the Battle Creek VAMC Office of Public Affairs.

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Published on Aug. 9, 2016

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2 Comments

  1. Phyllis Smith August 19, 2016 at 11:40 am

    I agree!!! This is OUTSTANDING:-) I got teary eyes just reading the story. I’m a WACVAAWU Chapter member. I’m sure as a Chapter we can make a difference at our local VA Hospital. PLease let me know how we can sign the agreement to give a Free Hug to a Vet.

  2. Louise Williams August 12, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    This is outstanding. Wherever I am in the USA I will volunteer for this. Just let me know how. Everyone needs hugs, including me.

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