On Sept. 12, Army Veteran Lawrence Brooks of New Orleans marked his 112th birthday. He is the nation’s oldest WWII Veteran and a patient at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System.
VA staff in New Orleans considers caring for him to be one of their greatest privileges.
Brooks was born in 1909 in Norwood, LA, and moved to New Orleans in 1929 before being drafted into the U.S Army in 1940. He deployed with the 91st Engineers Battalion. After returning home, he went on to marry and raise a family of five children, 13 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.
In the week before Brooks’ 112th birthday, he was visited by Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Donald Remy and Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System Director Fernando Rivera.
“Courage, kindness and generosity of spirit.”
“It was an honor to meet Mr. Brooks, a personal hero of mine,” said Remy, who is also an Army Veteran. “His courage, kindness and generosity of spirit set an example we should all aspire to.”
During his visit with Remy and Rivera, Brooks shared stories from his life as well as a bit of advice he often gives to those who ask him his secret to longevity: “Serve God and be nice to people.”
Brooks is well known in New Orleans with his last several birthdays having been celebrated at large public events. For his birthday in 2020, after an appointment at the New Orleans VA, he was greeted by an outdoor receiving line of health care staff wishing him a happy birthday.
Parade and new roof
In addition to the celebration at the medical center, his health care providers planned a birthday parade down the street past his home. Media covered the parade along with the donation of a new roof for Brooks’ home.
“Mr. Brooks is an inspiration to all of us at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System who are privileged to care for him,” Rivera said. “He is an American hero who we are proud to serve.”
Brooks’ VA health team has been there with him through difficult times as well as the happier ones.
20,000th COVID-19 vaccine
“Over the decades while we have provided Mr. Brooks’ care, his family has become a part of ours,” Rivera added. “He is an active partner in his health care plan and we are proud they trust us to provide safe, well-coordinated services to meet his needs.”
On Feb. 8, 2021, Brooks received the hospital’s 20,000th COVID-19 vaccine. After receiving the injection, Brooks was overjoyed, exclaiming, “I finally got it!”