While millions of Americans adjust to the new realities brought about by the unprecedented public health situation that is the coronavirus pandemic, some are reaching out to the residents of the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon to assure them they are appreciated, cared for and remembered.
Staff at the Home and Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs call it “Operation Well Wish,” and the well wishes have flooded in from all over. Many have sent letters, postcards, pictures and artwork, which are cleared by the Home’s infection prevention team before being shared with residents.
Others have sent in videos, and thanks to an article this week by the military-focused media outlet We Are The Mighty, they have come in from Virginia, Ohio, Texas, North Carolina, Hawaii and even as far as Italy. These videos are being played for residents on the Home’s closed-circuit TV channel.
Some have included their children or pets. Others have shown video footage from their favorite places in nature at their hometowns. Some have sung their favorite songs.
“With the lock-down protocols that are currently in place to keep our community safe, it has been a tremendous change in the residents’ way of life,” said ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick. “These men and women at our Lebanon Veterans’ Home have borne the battles to keep this nation safe and free. It’s wonderful for so many of the people that they have protected to be remembering them in this challenging time.”
One resident of the Home, Vern, a U.S. Army Korean War veteran, said he turns on the closed circuit TV channel first thing every morning.
“It is encouraging,” he said. “While this virus is going on, I think this is a very good idea!”
Lebanon Veterans’ Home Program Director Jeremy Woodall said the well wishes have been a huge boost to both residents, who have been isolated in their rooms for over two weeks as part of the facility’s infectious disease prevention protocols, and staff, who have been working tirelessly to provide excellent care.
“Seeing the smiles and songs and well wishes come in from literally around the world has lifted their spirits,” he said. “Young children, men and women, veterans and civilians… everyone has a chance share love and hope to others in this time.”
If you would like to be part of Operation Well Wish, please send your cards, letters or other materials in an unlicked envelope to ATTN: Operation Well Wish, Oregon Veterans’ Home, 600 N. 5th St., Lebanon, OR 97355. Videos may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org“>ODVAInformation@odva.state.or.us.