By William Tauro
The lack of Personal Protective Equipment with the now familiar acronym PPE has become one of the most familiar concerns that we hear concerning the care of COVID-19 patients and the medical teams who treat them.
Donations of PPE have come into some of the bigger names in health care in the area. One name that is not mentioned when the PPE is doled out is the Department of Veterans Affairs. Four VA hospitals are in the immediate region. Three of the Hospitals are part of the VA Boston Healthcare System with campuses in Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and Brockton. A fourth hospital, The Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital is commonly called after the town it resides in, the Bedford VA.
One of the unfortunate and truly sad stories that has emerged as part of the COVID 19 crisis is that of the Holyoke and Chelsea Soldier’s Homes. Both of the facilities have been hard hit by the insidiousness of the virus. Losses like these should remind us to do everything we can to protect the health of our Veterans.
The VA continues to be in the battle against COVID- 19 in the same way the more prestigious hospitals in the region have been. It was President Lincoln at the Gettysburg Address, whose prose “for him who has borne the battle, and for this widow, and for his orphan” gave rise to the nation’s commitment to provide for its Veterans.
Every day, virus or no virus, we should remember that we need to continually renew our commitment to serve those who have defended us. That may be true now more than ever. Perhaps when the next donation of PPE lands in the Boston area, the VA should also be present on the receiving line. That way, regardless of if we get to cook out on Memorial Day, or celebrate the Fourth of July in the usual fashion this year, we will have said thank you to our Veterans in a truly valuable way.