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Veterans Health Administration


National Salute to Veteran Patients Week

A woman sings on stage

Martha Reeves and The Vandellas opened with their chart-topping “Heat Wave” at a recent Valentine concert.

by Hans Petersen, VA Staff Writer
Monday, February 10, 2014

VA honors the service of Veterans every day. But this week, as Valentine’s Day approaches, VA is inviting every American to join us and make it special.

This week is VA’s annual National Salute to Veteran Patients — a time to pay tribute to America’s heroes — the men and women we proudly care for and serve. Men and women who have given more than most to protect and preserve all we hold dear as Americans.

VA facilities across the nation are honoring these men and women as we who are entrusted with their care reflect upon our obligation to serve those who have served us.

VA is also opening the doors to communities so every citizen will have the chance to thank a Veteran and learn more about volunteering at VA medical centers to build or practice their unique skills in support of the Veterans who defended their homes and freedoms.

The Salute will feature free musical concerts, Valentines from Americans around the country, and special ceremonies for the Nation’s Veterans from appreciative citizens.

The purpose of the National Salute to Veteran Patients program is to:

  • Pay tribute and express appreciation to Veterans
  • Increase community awareness of the role of the VA medical center
  • Encourage citizens to visit hospitalized Veterans and to become involved as volunteers

The week of February 14 each year is your opportunity to say thank you to a special group of men and women, the more than 98,000 Veterans of the U.S. armed services who are cared for every day in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, outpatient clinics, domiciliaries and nursing homes.

 The Salute is a wonderful opportunity for Americans to show their appreciation for Veterans. 

“Make the Salute the start of a commitment.”

During our National Salute, many citizens visit Veterans to thank them for what they have done for our country in the past and support them in the challenges they face today. They come face-to-face with the cost of our freedom and see for themselves that freedom is not free. It is earned with valor, commitment and undying patriotism, which is worthy of our time, energy and appreciation.

“The National Salute to Veteran Patients is a wonderful opportunity for patriotic Americans to show their appreciation for Veterans,” said Sabrina C. Clark, Director of VA Voluntary Service. “I encourage everyone to visit a Veteran at a local VA medical facility this Valentine's week, but I challenge everyone to make this National Salute the start of a commitment to honor Veterans by volunteering at a VA Medical Center and offering their own personal touch to serving those who served us first.”

To discover the things you, your group or organization can do to salute America’s Heroes, call your closest VA Medical Center. Ask for Voluntary Service.

Valentines, Concerts and Commander Rabb

The Valentines for Veterans concert schedule this year includes the The Spinners in Charleston, S.C., Aaron Tippin in Columbus, Ohio and Grass Roots in Sioux Falls, Iowa.

The Chairperson for the 2014 National Salute to Veteran Patients is David James Elliott, best known for creating the iconic character Commander Harmon Rabb Jr., in the highly successful ten-year run of the one-hour legal drama, “JAG.”

Eleven Million Hours of Service

For the 36th 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 medical facilities. More than a million cards and letters are sent to VA patients each year during National Salute.

A new generation of proud, young American fighting men and women are serving and sacrificing for freedom around the world and they are coming to VA medical centers like ours for care. Their special needs and challenges require the hearts and hands of a new generation of VA volunteers.

Personal contributions of time and expressions of care are the National Salute’s hallmark and the foundation of VA Voluntary Service (VAVS). VA volunteers epitomize the one-to-one sharing and caring that is a core value of our nation. Last year, close to 80,000 VA volunteers gladly gave more than 11 million hours of service to Veterans.

During the week of National Salute, we strive to offer more than excellent health care. We offer our patients a genuine connection with family, friends and the communities they served.