February 8, 2012
February 12 through 18, 2012 is a special time at Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers across the nation. Established as an official VA program in 1978, this week is known as National Salute to Veteran Patients and is an annual event designed to increase awareness of Veterans and the sacrifices they have made for our nation. It is an opportunity for the public to visit MEDVAMC and its outpatient clinics, meet America’s Veterans, and explore the various aspects of our facility’s volunteer program.
Columnist Ann Landers initiated a movement twenty-four years ago encouraging school children and adults alike to write a special note of thanks to hospitalized Veterans in a Valentine’s Day greeting. We take great care in distributing these cards to Veterans and displaying them throughout our hospital during this particular week.
It is touching to see how much effort young children put into making special Valentines to brighten the lives of our nation’s Veterans. Cards come in every shape and size - and are made with everything from tissue paper, stickers, and colored doilies to crayons, construction paper, and stamps. One thing all of these cards have in common is they are made with love and respect for our nation’s Veterans.
In addition to cards from school children, hospitalized Veterans and those with outpatient clinic appointments receive visits and enjoy special programs provided by community and area Veteran Service Organizations, local celebrities, youth groups, and members of the general public throughout the week. These visits have traditionally included personal time together sharing stories and interests, playing cards or board games, and distribution of U.S. flags.
National Salute also draws awareness to the role of the MEDVAMC in the community, as well as the many important volunteer opportunities at the facility.
I encourage you to send a Valentine to a Veteran or support one of the many special activities during this week at the MEDVAMC. I know you will enjoy the wonderful atmosphere created by staff and volunteers to honor our Nation’s heroes. The cheer and well wishes spread to hospitalized Veterans is quite ‘contagious’ and is a ‘prescription you can fill!’ Contact our Voluntary Service Office at (713) 794-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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Awarded re-designation for Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services in 2008, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center serves as the primary health care provider for more than 130,000 veterans in southeast Texas. Veterans from around the country are referred to the MEDVAMC for specialized diagnostic care, radiation therapy, surgery, and medical treatment including cardiovascular surgery, gastrointestinal endoscopy, nuclear medicine, ophthalmology, and treatment of spinal cord injury and diseases. The MEDVAMC is home to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic; Network Polytrauma Center; an award-winning Cardiac and General Surgery Program; Liver Transplant Center; VA Epilepsy and Cancer Centers of Excellence; VA Substance Abuse Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative; Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence; VA Rehabilitation Research of Excellence focusing on mild to moderate traumatic brain injury; Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center; and one of the VA’s six Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers. Including the outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, Lufkin, Richmond, and Texas City, MEDVAMC outpatient clinics logged almost 1.3 million outpatient visits in fiscal year 2011. For the latest news releases and information about the MEDVAMC, visit www.houston.va.gov.