Some tickets still available for Villagers for Veterans Orchid Gala to honor women veterans

Villagers for Veterans will host its third annual Orchid Gala on Saturday, Aug. 12 at the Savannah Center to honor women veterans.

Leslie Nicole Smith
Leslie Nicole Smith

This year’s keynote speaker is retired Army Capt. Leslie Nicole Smith. Smith was deployed to Bosnia in September of 2001 during Operation Joint Forge. However, she developed a blood clot and was admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where it was discovered her complications stemmed from exposure to a chemical agent or toxin.

Smith lost her left leg below the knee and vision, leaving her legally blind.

Also speaking will be retired Army Military Police Tara Hutchinson, who will share about her journey.

Tara Hutchison
Tara Hutchison

Hutchinson was deployed to Iraq in 2006 when her vehicle hit a roadside bomb during an Iraqi Police mission. Her right leg was instantly severed above the knee, and the amount of blood loss she faced caused a portion of her brain to die.

The former military police officer was left with a movement disorder likened to Parkinson’s.

Hutchinson will introduce the Orchid Pin that she created exclusively for Villagers for Veterans.

The pin will be presented to past recipients in memory of Specialist Nicole Fyre, who was killed in 2004 when her convoy encountered an improvised explosive device in Iraq.

An all-terrain zoom chair will be presented to retired Army LTC. Natalie Vines, who lives in The Villages.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $40 per person.

Visit to purchase tickets or contact Marie Bogdonoff at 516-220-5068.

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