VA Maryland Health Care System
Letter to the Editor - National Salute to Veteran Patients 2015
Americans revere the courage and sacrifice of our service men and women. To demonstrate a commitment to those who have worn the cloth of the nation, grateful community members volunteer at VA health care facilities across the country, including locations throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System. During National Salute to Veteran Patients Week (February 8-14, 2015), we invite Maryland residents to join us at the VA to honor the men and women who have served our nation in uniform.
This annual salute to Veteran patients, launched in 1978, gives every American a chance to thank Veterans for our freedom. For the 27th consecutive year, the nationally syndicated column started by Ann Landers, now called “Ask Annie,” has devoted a column to the National Salute, asking readers to send Valentine cards and letters to hospitalized Veterans at VA health care facilities. More than a million cards and letters are sent to VA patients each year during National Salute. Additionally, Actor Dominic Chianese, best known for his role as Corrado “Uncle Junior” Soprano on the HBO television series, The Sopranos, will serve as Chairperson of the 2015 National Salute to Veteran Patients and will be visiting hospitalized Veterans at VA medical centers across the country.
This year at the VA Maryland Health Care System, community volunteers, including youth choirs, military bands, singers, and local residents with musical talents, will be performing for Veteran patients throughout the National Salute week at each of our facilities. Others will sort and distribute the Valentine’s Day cards that come in all shapes and sizes, many handmade and decorated by school children and community groups throughout the state. It’s hard to express how these small acts of kindness help to cheer our Veteran patients, especially if they are far from friends and family.
Approximately 1,300 volunteers donate their time, talents and service to support the needs of Veteran patients throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System. During the past year, these volunteers contributed a total of 92,359 hours of service, equaling more than $2.3 million of paid hours. Volunteers do a variety of tasks throughout our health care system, including serving as volunteer drivers and escorts to support the daily transportation needs of Veteran patients, to sponsoring recreational events that lead to meaningful leisure time activities for hospitalized Veterans, to name a few.
Becoming a volunteer is easy. For more information, call the VA Maryland Health Care System’s Voluntary Service Office at (410) 605-7100 or visit our website at www.maryland.va.gov and click on “Volunteer or Donate.”
Even if it is something as simple as sending a Valentine, I invite community members throughout the state to celebrate National Salute to Veteran Patients Week with us to show Maryland’s Veterans that we appreciate their service and sacrifice.
ADAM M. ROBINSON, JR., M.D.
Acting Director, VA Maryland Health Care System