VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System
National Salute to Veteran Patients Week
National Salute to Veteran Patients is a tribute that begins the second week of February and lasts a full week at VA medical facilities across America to honor the men, women and their families who have given so much to protect and preserve our way of life, our freedoms, and all we hold dear as Americans.
At VAAAHS, special visits, valentine card distributions, and recreational activities were coordinated with various members of government, Veterans and Veteran groups, stakeholders, community members and leaders, student athletes from the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, along with ROTC midshipmen, and many others, to help pay tribute to Veterans at VAAAHS.
VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) Coordinator, Sandra Jacobs, said these visits are beneficial for Veterans and visitors alike, and they’re great opportunities for the public to gain awareness of the VA.
She said events like these help build relationships between the VA and the local community, and make lasting impressions on both the Veterans and visitors.
“National Salute to Veteran Patients Week allows members of the community the opportunity to give back, even in a small way, to show our nation’s Veterans how much we appreciate the sacrifices they made for us,” said Jacobs.
U.S.N. Capt. Joe Evans, the commander of the Naval ROTC unit at U-of-M, said he couldn’t be more proud of his group that volunteered to visit the hospital twice a day throughout the week.
“One of the midshipmen that I was with on Friday afternoon summed it up quite nicely when she told me that she just wanted to ‘say thank you’ to a generation of Veterans that never heard it enough,” said Capt. Evans.
Opportunities like this, Capt. Evans continued – to take part in something as meaningful as honoring America’s Veterans – is why the U-of-M ROTC program has such a great, lasting relationship with VAAAHS, and these experiences are important for the development of future leaders in the program.
“All of the young men and women in the Naval ROTC program have a deep desire to serve their country, and it comes through in many ways to include visiting our hospitalized Veterans,” said Capt. Evans.
EMU football defensive coordinator, Coach Bradley McCaslin, who brought part of his team to say “thank you” to the Veterans, said it was a great learning experience for him and his team.
According to McCaslin, many Veterans offered encouraging words to his young team members that will not only serve them well in life, but couldn’t have been more affective at inspiring hope for the team’s next season.
“We left there appreciating the opportunity and will absolutely return in the future,” said McCaslin.
Miss Michigan, KT Maviglia, has been visiting Veterans at VAAAHS for the past two years.
Maviglia said it’s a blessing to be able to spend her time with friendly staff, helpful volunteers, and “most importantly, the courageous Veterans” that she has “always looked up to in admiration,” she said.
“By visiting the VA, I am able to share my appreciation for the heroes that fought for our country and our freedom. I am forever thankful. I look forward to visiting the Ann Arbor VA Hospital again during my year as Miss Michigan and in the years to come!”
For more information about volunteering at the Ann Arbor VA, please contact the Volunteer Service Office in room AB-28 at (734) 845-3467.