Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
VA holds First Inpatient Veterans Parade
Veterans lined the halls of the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center on Nov. 8 to watch the first ever Inpatient Veterans Parade, made possible by one VA employee’s vision and the patriotic spirit of a community.
The Muskogee High School R.O.T.C. color guard led the way through Primary Care and inpatient wards followed members of the community and ‘mini’ floats decorated by VA staff.
Honor, the facility dog, acted as Grand Marshal while parade participants handed out candy, hats, and other treats to Veterans.
A total of 25 organizations and VA services joined in the event, which included Muskogee High School’s marching band, cheerleaders, and football players. Members from the Korean War Veterans, American Red Cross; and over 80 students from Sadler Arts Academy also participated.
Veteran Billy Fuller was excited to have the opportunity to see the parade in the hospital and said he became emotional when he saw the color guard.
“I really liked the parade,” said Fuller. “I was in the Air Force and seeing the colors and hearing the songs just takes me back. Thank you for doing this for us.”
Sadler students passed out cards and thanked Veterans for their service while the band, cheer squad, and football players brought the music and patriotic spirit that echoed throughout the facility.
Air Force Veteran Merle Smith and Terry Hood were all smiles as the parade passed through the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit of the medical center.
“I think this is the greatest thing in the world,” said Smith. “All these young kids bringing cards and thanking Veterans. It was just really something special.”
Hood agreed, but added with a big smile, “The candy was my favorite part.”
The idea for the parade came about a year ago when inpatients expressed their disappointment at not being able to attend Veterans Day activities. That is when Voluntary Service Specialist Shantel McJunkins started thinking about how the VA could bring the parade to Veterans.
“It was important to me that we bring the parade to the VA this year to celebrate and honor our Veterans who are not able to attend Veterans Day parades in their community,” said McJunkins. “It was such a joy to see their faces light up as the parade went through the hospital.”