Since 1978, VA has marked Valentine’s Day with a weeklong commemoration of our Veteran patients: It’s the annual National Salute to Veteran Patients week.

Americans are encouraged to seek opportunities to volunteer at their local VA facilities, visit with inpatients and distribute gifts and cards to hospitalized Veterans.

“As we take a moment to salute our Veteran patients, VA recognizes the efforts of volunteers and community members who help support our mission and we encourage all Americans to reach out to VA to explore more ways to give back,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “For more than 75 years, volunteers have helped us keep America’s promise to Veterans by providing supplemental services and support when and where Veterans need them most.”

Quilt of Valor presentation at Fresno VA

In 2021, schools, community groups and youth organizations nationwide sent more than 174,000 valentines to VA medical centers, which were distributed to Veteran patients at facilities across the country. Additionally, nearly 1,200 volunteers and more than 1,000 community organizations contributed to events and activities recognizing hospitalized Veterans.

Special activities

Special activities were held at VA medical centers across America. Here are just a few.

Marion VA Veteran’s Valentine visit

Long Beach VA: One of the groups who so beautifully shared handmade Valentines for Veterans again this year was a group of Girl Scouts and their classmates at Riviera Elementary.

Northern Arizona VA: Staff and volunteers made huge celebratory banners, with bright signatures and kind words. Over a four-hour period, almost 200 citizens came to the Yavapai Courthouse Square to write words of appreciation on the mammoth banners.

The week of February 14 each year is our opportunity to say thank you to a special group of men and women, the Veterans who are cared for in VA medical centers, outpatient clinics, domiciliary and nursing homes.

There are no words that can adequately express what their sacrifices have meant to the nation. But we can take time to express our personal thanks and appreciation to them.

At VA, our patients have a special place in our hearts. We are pledged to do all that we can to care for their health and promote their well-being. These heroes are no mere “patients” – they are “our” Veterans, and we are honored to care for them, as we are honored to provide our volunteers the opportunity to do so too.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities or to join the mission to honor the sacrifice and service of America’s Veterans any time of year, contact your nearest VA facility.

By Hans Petersen is senior writer-editor for Digital Media, VHA Office of Communications. An Air Force Veteran, Hans also served two years in the Peace Corps and worked for 20 years in broadcasting before joining VA.

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Published on Feb. 20, 2022

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