Dondi gets Flu Shot Along with 96-year-old Creator - Veterans Health Administration
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Dondi gets Flu Shot Along with 96-year-old Creator

Senior man holds up a tablet with a cartoon character drawn on it

Irwin Hasen, Cartoonist and Army Veteran

By Claudie Benjamin, Public Affairs Specialist, New York Harbor Health Care System
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

“I got my free flu shot at the VA…How about you!!!” says cartoon character Dondi.

Just as the war orphan cartoon character he made famous, 96-year-old cartoonist Irwin Hasen also got a flu shot. But, his vaccine was real and delivered by his VA New York Harbor home based primary care nurse practitioner Michael Lehrman.

Hasen was a man about town for years and although he doesn’t get out too much anymore, he hasn’t lost his charm.

He says, “VA has been very good to me.”

When his home based primary care social worker Linda Schwarzmann, asked him, he readily agreed to sketch Dondi to encourage Veterans and VA staff to get a flu shot as this season begins.

The artist has an infectious sense of humor and laughs as he explains going to VA “for a pedicure,” when in fact he’s coming for podiatry care.

 VA has been very good to me. 

Cartoon Strip Ran in Hundreds of Newspapers

Hasen has been known for decades as the creator, with his friend Gus Edson, of Dondi, a syndicated comic strip. The Dondi character, loved by millions, was a round-eyed war orphan. The strip ran in hundreds of newspapers throughout the U.S. from 1955-1986.

Hasen is also the creator of many other comics and did many Marvel and DC comic book illustrations. Loverboy, a 2009 autobiographical book, was his latest publication.

He was drafted into the Army where he happily accepted assignment as writer, editor and cartoonist of a Fort Dix newspaper. “It was the happiest time of my life,” he recalled.

After a stroke in 2007, Hasen found it more difficult to move around and is very grateful for the services provided by the Home Based Primary Care team. The team, which includes his nurse practitioner, social worker, physical therapist and dietitian, provide their service to Hasen in his home. All who visit with him are impressed by his upbeat and positive attitude.

For more information, click flu.