National Salute to Veteran Patients Week

The only way I could describe my visit to the VA Hospital for "National Salute to Veteran Patients Week" is unforgettable.

This week, a few of us from KOMU visited the VA Hospital here in Columbia to thank all those there for their service. We also handed out Valentine's Day cards that kids all over the country had made for them. I loved hearing these people's stories and experiences while serving overseas.

During our visit, we also went up to the care center. We weren't allowed to visit each room separately because there was a virus going around, but as I walked past the veteran's rooms I saw them sitting alone, doing crossword puzzles and watching TV. I really wanted to go up to them and give them a giant hug. It really made my heart break to see them sitting in their rooms all alone...Also visiting with some who could barely speak, much less walk, made me really appreciate my life and what they had done for us.

There was one veteran up there who our anchor/reporter had remembered from one of her many stories on the "Honor Flight." This anchor started raising enough money to do Honor Flights here in Columbia a few years ago. A Honor Flight takes a planeload of WWII veterans to Washington D.C. to see their memorial. For many WWII veterans, before they pass away, many will never even get to see their own memorial. The Honor Flight is a valuable experience for those who go. For this one man, our anchor asked if he could remember his visit there. As he started his story, we weren't sure if he really did remember it, since we didn't have a clue where the story was going. Slowly, but surely, he told us the story of how he remembered getting off the plane and this little 4-year-old girl running up to him and hugging him. She thanked him for his service. He told us this is something he will never forget. Pretty sure most of us in that room were near tears.

I now hold all those stories very close to my heart. It was great to see some of them out and about though interacting with others. Many told us this was the best VA Hospital in the country and the care they've received has been phenomenal. This made me proud of our community.

Being able to do these types of things for my community, makes me value my job as a journalist even more. I loved seeing these people's faces light up and having them know that their service didn't go unnoticed. Because I'm so young I had a few tell me they thought in a town full of college students nobody would care about what they did for their country, but they were so glad to see at least one. It really made my heart melt.

By the end of the visit we made a few friends:

*First picture courtesy of


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