Veterans are celebrating Independence Day at VA medical centers across America. Below is a snapshot of some of the activities.
Nurses at the Community Living Center at the VA Western Colorado Health Care System, Grand Junction, Colorado, came up with a creative Memorial Day parade that started with just the families of the Veterans driving by in their cars due to not being able to visit because of COVID. It quickly became a 40-car parade with antique cars, motorcycles, fire departments, Cooties and tiny horses. It was such a success, they’re doing it again for July 4.
Kayla Holst, director of Communication and Community Development at the VA Western Colorado Health Care System, said she anticipates an even larger parade for July 4.
The Overton Brooks VA in Shreveport, Louisiana, had a full day of activities including an American flag drive through, a Vietnam Veteran lapel pin presentation, accepting food for homeless Veterans and a local restaurant donating proceeds from the hot dogs and hamburgers to Veteran programs.
Their slogan: Observing Independence Day Together…As Best We Can!
The Martinsburg VA Medical Center in West Virginia is having a parade of family members for their CLC Veterans. Some family members are coming from Delaware and Florida. Other than Skype, the Veterans haven’t seen their families since February.
The Pittsburgh VAMC will have 10-12 Vintage WW2 Jeeps parked outside for an hour. Drivers will wear vintage uniforms (but will stay in their vehicle because of COVID-19). Veteran inpatients will be able to see from windows. Some will be brought outside to “tour” (in a socially distancing fashion).
This year would be the 10th anniversary of the VA2K Walk & Roll, the Employee Whole Health initiative that encourages personal fitness and support for homeless Veterans.
“It’s such a fun event and a really good cause. We hated to cancel it so, we’ve made it a virtual event instead” said Kim Ezell, the Washington, D.C., medical center’s Health Promotion and Disease Prevention coordinator. Employees and Veterans are invited to walk 10,000 steps during the 4th of July weekend, and to snap a selfie to post to your personal social media using the hashtag #VirtualVA2K.
At VA New England, the Bedford VA Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts, will connect with Veterans virtually with a special Fourth of July coffee social. Bedford VAMC’s Veteran peer specialists will host the social with holiday themed trivia and letter writing for hospitalized Veterans.
“Our Fourth of July celebration will be fun and festive. We’re going to take a moment to take pride with our fellow Veterans in knowing that we answered our nation’s call to serve in protecting our country’s independence.” – Jessica Mack, VA Veteran peer support specialist and Air Force Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Shannon Arledge, Sarah M. Tolstyka, Shelley Nulph, Sarah H. Cox and John Paradis contributed to this story.