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February 08, 2013


VA honors veterans during National Salute to Veteran Patients week Feb. 10-16

TOMAH, Wis. (Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center) — The Tomah Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center invites the public to participate as it hosts a week of special activities to honor its veterans from Feb. 10-16, during the 2013 National Salute to Veteran Patients week.

“The National Salute to Veteran Patients is a great opportunity to remind our nation’s heroes that their contribution to our country is not forgotten,” said Tomah VA Medical Center Director Mario DeSanctis. “We’ve invited local celebrities, school children and other groups to visit during the week. We want people of all ages to bring Valentine’s Day cheer to our patients.”

DeSanctis said he hopes visitors also will learn more about the important roles volunteers play at the medical center throughout the year and perhaps pursue volunteer opportunities.

“Our medical center’s 375 volunteers are an important part of our health care team, and the National Salute program is a great way for people to learn more about helping the veterans we serve here at the medical center,” said DeSanctis. “Visitors are surprised at how varied our volunteer opportunities are.”

People of all ages once again are sending Valentine’s Day cards and letters to VA medical centers simply addressed, “Dear Veteran.” DeSanctis said they are being distributed to patients throughout the medical center.

One of the most-impressive events of the week is the Veterans’ Art Exhibit, which also is open to the public. Entries include works of sculpture, painting, wood working, ceramics, and needlework, to name a few.

All of the art is made by veterans receiving care at the Tomah VA or the medical center’s outpatient clinics. The art is on display Tuesday through Thursday (Feb. 12-14) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and special evening hours Wednesday, Feb. 13, being open until 6:30 p.m. The display will be in building 407, room 1724.

On Feb. 14, veterans with a passion for the performing arts (music, dance, drama and creative writing) will present their entries in the annual performing arts competition.

Interested individuals can attend the competition and encourage veterans as they enter a large variety of songs, essays, skits and dance.

The competition begins at 9 a.m. in the Midway, building 406, room 1655. Spectators are welcome.

Veterans receiving care at the Tomah VA or any of the Tomah VA’s Outpatient Clinics can enter either competition. For more information, call Tomah VA’s Voluntary Service office at 608-372-1727.

Both the art exhibit and the performing arts competition are the first round in the annual Creative Arts Festival competition, with winners advancing to the national competition and a chance at an invitation to the 2013 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival hosted by the Reno, Nev., VA Medical Center in October.

The National Salute Week schedule includes a variety of special activities for the patients such as bingo games, movies, “Afternoon at the Races” parties, and a bowling tournament. A Valentine’s Dance is planned; Miss Wisconsin will visit for a day; a Valentine’s cake will be served by the Cranberry Royalty, and ambassadors from the Tomah Area Chamber of Commerce will visit veterans.

Individuals or groups wishing to participate in the medical center program can call the Voluntary Service office, 608-372-1727.

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