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VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System kicks off annual National Salute to Veterans Week with music, Valentines and treats

Offutt Band

OMAHA, Neb. — Veterans receiving care at the Omaha VA Medical Center received a rare musical treat on Monday, Feb. 12, as VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System (VA NWIHCS) kicked off its annual National Salute to Veteran Patients Week in high style.

For roughly one hour, Veterans who walked through the main hallway of the Ambulatory Care center were able to listen as four Airmen from the U.S. Air Force’s Heartland of America band at Offutt Force Base, Nebraska, played several tunes for the Veterans who got hearts pumping and feet tapping in rhythm. 

The small concert was one of several events planned for this week as VA NWIHCS joined VA medical facilities nationwide in honoring Veterans receiving their care through the VA. 

“This week, VA facilities across our nation are honoring all Veterans who have entrusted us with their care,” said Dr. Eileen Kingston, director of VA NWIHCS. “This is a sacred trust that we should never take for granted because we know that our Veterans have options when it comes to their health care.”

“Each of us who are privileged to live in this nation have a special place in our hearts for our Veterans. This is the reason why, for the past 46 years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has chosen the week of Valentine’s Cay to encourage our communities and fellow citizens to join us in expressing our affection and our respect for those who have served our nation as members of the uniformed armed services,” Kingston added.

Throughout the week, VA NWIHCS will conduct daily civic activities to recognize Veteran patients. These activities include periodic Veteran treats and Valentine giveaways by local Veterans Service Organizations and other civic groups throughout the week. 

Michael Ingram, VA NWIHCS Center for Development and Civic Engagement chief, said these activities, and many others like them that support Veterans, would only be possible with the combined efforts of many Volunteers.

“Volunteers are a priceless asset in our continuing effort to care for our nation’s Veterans,” Ingrams said. “The VA Center for Development and Civic Engagement (CDCE) offers many volunteer programs that directly benefit Veterans. These programs cover a wide range of support such as greeting Veterans at the main entrance as a Red Coat Ambassador, Transportation and Shuttle driving, Emotional Support Animal facilitation, and Compassionate Contact Corps by contacting socially isolated Veterans through phone calls.”  

“These are just a few of the many ways our volunteers make a major positive impact in our Veteran’s experience at our VA Medical Centers,” Ingram added. 

Kingston agreed, saying that volunteers provide essential services enabling VA NWIHCS to provide the care that Veterans need.

“We are honored to be joined in this effort by our team of volunteers who have also committed themselves to the mission of serving our Veterans,” Kingston said. “In fact, without these volunteers – many of whom are Veterans themselves – we would not be able to fulfill our mission.”

“No matter how they serve or what capacity of support they provide, our volunteers are making a difference in the lives of our Veterans every day,” she added. “Today, as we begin this remarkable recognition week, i would like to also encourage our fellow community members who may be interested in giving back to our Veterans to reach out to the staff of our Center for Development and Civic Engagement.”

People can also learn more about volunteer opportunities by visiting or calling VA Center for Development & Civic Engagement at 402-995-3283.