On Sept. 14, the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center received 10,000 masks to distribute to Veteran patients and their families.

Interim Medical Center Director Paul Hopkins accepts the first box of masks.

Interim Medical Center Director Paul Hopkins accepts the first box of masks.

The masks were provided by the United States Exercise Tiger Foundation (USTF), in partnership with the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the Office of the Governor, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Kingdom Pilots’ Association (KPA).

KPA volunteer, Army Vietnam-era Veteran and Civil Air Patrol pilot, Lt. Col. Ted Forester and his fellow KPA co-pilot, Farris Wooten, delivered the masks to the Poplar Bluff Municipal Airport, as shown in the photo above.

“They said they need help and I said, ‘I’m your man,’” Forester said.

Masks will safeguard our Veterans

“We are grateful to receive these supplies to help keep our Veterans safe when they come for appointments,” said VA Interim Medical Center Director, Paul Hopkins. “Veterans are noted for their commitment to protecting their colleagues and these masks will help safeguard them and their families as our nation fights this terrible virus.”

The “Mask-a-Vet” Campaign is unique to Missouri and is the largest humanitarian mission in the organization’s history. Missouri’s SEMA delivered the first 50,000 masks provided by the U.S. Department of Public Health Service.

The U.S. Exercise Tiger Foundation logo.

The Kingdom Pilots’ Association (and USTF staff) will distribute deliveries to VA Hospitals, VFWs, American Legions, and other Veterans’ groups.

“We will distribute the masks state-wide till our inventory is depleted,” said USTF National Executive Director, Susan Haines. “There are five masks to a package and we envision each Veteran and their family members will have an unopened pack of five per person. We predict that at least 30,000 Veterans and their families will be the recipients during Phase I.”

“This is the crisis of our lifetime. COVID-19 will one day be defeated but until then carrying on this fight against an unseen enemy by providing masks to Missouri Veterans, warriors, guardsman and their families is but one way we can help.”

Hope to mask 250,000 Missouri Veterans

The organization hopes to mask some 250,000 Missouri Veterans and family members before the project is complete.

The United States Exercise Tiger Foundation honors Veterans, active military, students, citizens and communities for their patriotic actions. It derives its name from  Exercise Tiger, one of a series of large-scale rehearsals for the 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II, in which over 700 American servicemen died.

Angela Smith is a public affairs officer for the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center.

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Published on Sep. 21, 2020

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