On Wednesday Feb. 12, members of the Tennessee State University Athletics Department visited the Nashville VA Medical Center, as they joined in the efforts to bring the Nashville community together to Salute Veteran patients who have fought for freedom.
These individuals came together and marched through the wards of the hospital and visited patients in their rooms throughout the day.
TSU coaches, student-athletes, cheerleaders and administrators came together and showed their support to our veterans by participating in the “Mardi Gras” parade and themed festivities.
“This was my second year attending the Mardi Gras parade at the VA Hospital and it just keeps getting better and better,” commented head golf coach Parrish McGrath. “We just all went out and thanked the veterans for their service as well as the people that take care of them. My father is a patient at that hospital from time to time and I just thanked everyone as if they were the one directly responsible for saving his life, which is what they did about a year ago. It will always be a special event for me to go to and I will attend every year that I can.”
The Nashville VA Medical Center is one of two main campuses in the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare Systems (TVHS), comprised of the Nashville and Alvin C. York Medical Centers and nine outpatient clinics. The Nashville campus offers primary, secondary and tertiary care to veterans living in middle Tennessee and Kentucky.
The Nashville VA Medical Center participates in the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs’ National Salute to Veteran Patients Program each year. The purpose of this program is to pay tribute and express appreciation to veterans; increase community awareness on the role of the VA medical center; and encourage citizens to visit hospitalized Veterans and to become involved as volunteers.
Tony Stevens, Assistant Chief of Voluntary Services, has been working for the VA Medical Center for five years and has served in the Army. When asked about the event and how it has changed he stated, "The Mardi Gras parade has been great and each year it has gotten better. The look on the patients’ faces when I go in and shake their hands and thank them, it comes back as a ‘thank you’ for what you're doing." In regards to how the veterans feel Stevens went on to say, "Our veterans are really happy about the volunteers and the different universities, organizations and musicians that come and it is an awesome experience and our veterans love it."
The VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System is committed to improving the health of Veterans through a comprehensive and high quality system, which focuses on each patient’s special needs. The integrated system provides an environment that fosters healthcare research and encourages learning and growth for veterans, family and staff.
As a first time volunteer in this event, Tennessee State University men's and women's head tennis Coach Robert Cain said, " As a big advocate for giving back it was fun and nice to go around the hospital thanking the veterans for their services. After seeing happy responses from the veterans and some of the responses from the staff members it makes me feel good knowing that I have done something that can brighten up their day."
Athletic Media Relations assistant Cierra Joshua contributed to this article