Veterans honoring veterans

Published 8:51 am Monday, October 13, 2014

Hampton VA Medical Center patients and staff pose for a photo on the front porch of Gates County VFW Post 7312 during their recent visit. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Hampton VA Medical Center patients and staff pose for a photo on the front porch of Gates County VFW Post 7312 during their recent visit. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

SUNBURY – Respect….that’s the one word used by members of Gates County VFW Post 7312 when they speak of military veterans.

Respect was on full display here recently when the local VFW Post played host to patients and staff of the Hampton VA Medical Center.

Twenty-six veterans attended, accompanied by three members of the hospital staff and two volunteers. The veterans ranged in age of 80 (from the Korean War) to a 27-year-old who saw action in Iraq during the Global War on Terrorism. The majority were able to maneuver on their own power. Several others were confined to wheelchairs; one was brought in on a rolling bed.

Another 55 individuals from the local area, to include members of Gates County VFW Post 7312, turned out for the occasion.

“This is something we take great pride in doing,” said VFW Post 7312 Vice Commander Curtis Wilkins, adding that the local Post plays host to the VA Hospital veterans twice a year.

A home-cooked meal consisting of pork chops, potato salad, baked beans, deviled eggs, rolls, lemonade, tea and dessert was served to the veterans and guests. Any leftovers were packaged and given to the veterans to consume at a later time.

“We don’t cut any corners when it comes to feeding these men and women,” Wilkins noted. “I told the members here when the time comes when we’re worrying about spending 100 dollars to do this, it’s time to quit; these veterans deserve the best. We always try to cook them a meal that they will not get at the hospital.”

Wilkins said he wasn’t sure of exactly how long VFW Post 7312 has been staging this event, but he has records dating back to 2001.

“And we were doing it prior to that, but somebody else was heading it up then,” he stated. “When I started doing it in 2001 I kept the records.

“Today is about these guys; nobody else matters,” Wilkins stressed about the military veterans. “The way I look at it, and I believe most of the members here feel the same way, we are thankful that we are able to do this for them, the veterans in the VA Hospital. We could be on the other side of the fence. This is a very worthwhile event; this is their day, one to get out of the normal daily grind to relax and have a good time.”

Assisting the local VFW Post in staging the event were the Corapeake Ruritan Club, and VFW Posts 10999 (Raleigh) and  6060 (Elizabeth City). The Route 17 Band – based in Gloucester, VA – volunteered their time to provide entertainment.

North Carolina VFW officials attended the event, to include Junior Vice Commander Doug Blevins of Sparta, Past Department Commander Elree Smith of Raleigh, and Fran Redfield, Senior Vice President of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary.

As the fourth oldest facility in the VA health care system, established just after the Civil War (in 1870) as a National Home for Volunteer Soldiers and Sailors, the Hampton VA Medical Center is a 468-bed facility that serves a 15-county area in eastern Virginia and a 10-county area in northeastern North Carolina.

A teaching hospital providing a full range of patient care services, Hampton VAMC features state-of-the-art technology as well as education and research. Comprehensive health care is provided through primary care, acute inpatient care, psychiatric care, chronic spinal cord care, long-term care, hospice palliative care and domiciliary rehabilitative residential care. The facility accepts domiciliary referrals and spinal cord injury referrals from a multi-state area.

Hampton has active affiliations with Eastern Virginia Medical School, the Medical College of Virginia (Virginia Commonwealth University), and the University of North Carolina. More than 180 individual university residents, interns, and students are trained at Hampton each year.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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