VA Maryland Health Care System
Thanking Veterans via National Salute
It's that time of year again when Americans reach out and say thank you to Veterans during the National Salute to Veterans Patients Week. This year, the weeklong recognition runs from February 14 to February 20, giving every American the opportunity to demonstrate their appreciation for the service men and women who voluntarily sacrificed in a myriad of ways to protect and preserve our freedom. Volunteers at VA facilities, including all of our sites throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System, join us during this annual salute, launched in 1978.
For 28 consecutive years, the nationally syndicated column started by Ann Landers, now called "Ask Annie", has devoted space to the National Salute, asking readers to send Valentine cards and letters to hospitalized Veterans at VA medical facilities across the county. More than a million cards and letters are sent to VA patients each year during National Salute.
This year at the VA Maryland Health Care System, community members who serve as volunteers, including youth choirs, military bands, singers, and local residents with musical talents, are performing for Veteran patients during National Salute throughout our facilities. Others will sort and deliver the Valentine's Day cards that come in all shapes and sizes, many that are handmade by students in local schools. It's hard to express how these small kindnesses often cheer Veteran patients, especially if they haven't received any visitors because their families live too far away.
While we join the nation to encourage the community to volunteer at VA facilities during National Salute to Veteran Patients Week, Marylander's have the opportunity to show their appreciation to Veteran patients by volunteering their time or donating to a VA medical facility throughout the year. Currently, approximately 900 volunteers serve throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System, accumulating more than 8,564 hours monthly and equaling more than $197,571 of monthly paid hours. That translates to an annual savings of $2,370,742 for the health care system. Volunteers do a variety of tasks, including serving as drivers in our transportation network to ensure that Veterans can get to and from their medical appointments, among other services.
Becoming a volunteer is easy. This year, the VA Maryland Health Care System is putting out a call for volunteers across the state who like driving and who would like to participate in our Veterans Transportation Network. For more information, call the VA Maryland Health Care System's Voluntary Service offices: the Baltimore VA Medical Center at: (410) 605-7100; the Loch Raven VA Community Living & Rehabilitation Center at (410) 605-7000, ext. 5877; or the Perry Point VA Medical Center at (410) 642-1038. You can also get information about how to become a volunteer by visiting our website www.maryland.va.gov/giving/volunteer001.asp.
Even if it's something as simple as sending a Valentine, I invite the community to celebrate National Salute to Veteran Patients Week with us, and together, let's show Maryland's Veterans that we appreciate their sacrifice and service.
Adam M. Robinson, Jr., M.D.
Director, VA Maryland Health Care System