Dear Annie:

In the past year, the Department of Veterans Affairs has tackled many issues for our veterans, and we are proud to participate in the largest transformation of VA in recent history.

Our volunteers and community partners form a large part of this effort, allowing us to bring programs and services to our veterans that otherwise would be unavailable. At VA, every day is Veterans Day, but we take special notice in February to celebrate the National Salute to Veteran Patients. This year’s salute is Feb. 12-16, and we encourage communities across the country to take part in this effort to honor our hospitalized veterans and to seek out opportunities to volunteer at their local VA facility.

Last year, 413,253 valentines were received at VA medical centers, arriving from schools, community groups and youth organizations nationwide. These notes of recognition were distributed to our veteran patients at facilities across the country. Additionally, more than 11,000 volunteers and 1,500 community organizations contributed to events and activities recognizing our hospitalized veterans. VA appreciates your strong support of this important program, and I encourage your thoughtful readers to take time once again this February to honor our veterans.

I have a very special favor to ask. If your readers know a veteran in crisis, please be sure to direct them to the Veterans Crisis Line immediately. The veteran can call 800-273-8255 and press 1. Finally, if anyone would like to join us in our mission to honor the sacrifice and service of America’s veterans during the National Salute to Veteran Patients or at any time throughout the year, please visit your nearest VA facility or contact us online at volunteer.va.gov.

—David J. Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Dear Dr. Shulkin:

I appreciate your letter and your dedication to our veterans. We all owe veterans our deepest thanks, and the National Salute to Veteran Patients is a wonderful opportunity for expressing that gratitude. I encourage readers to participate.

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