Letters, postcards, and videos from around the world, including by Oregon State Police, are brightening residents’ days
LEBANON – It’s easy to feel alone during the coronavirus pandemic. But some people are reaching out to the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon with messages of support to assure the residents that they are appreciated, cared for, remembered, and connected.
Staff at the Veterans’ Home and Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA) 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 — more than 100 so far — and they have come in from across Oregon, as well as 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 or recited poetry. They’ve been from individuals, kids, adults, organizations, other veterans, current service members, and more.
Lebanon Veterans’ Home Program Director Jeremy Woodall said the messages 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 the Home’s staff, who have been working tirelessly.
“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.”
ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick agrees. “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. These men and women at our Lebanon Veterans’ Home have fought 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.”
Last Friday, some friends and supporters of the Home who also happen to be employees of the Oregon State Police (OSP), surprised residents with their own series of video greetings and well wishes. These submissions came in from OSP personnel who are also current or former military service members.
“We are so grateful to our partners at the Oregon State Police for remembering our vulnerable veteran residents,” Fitzpatrick said. “Their incredible support is just one of the many ways the state of Oregon is reminding the veteran community that they have not, and will not, forget their sacred promise to honor the service and sacrifice of all who have served in our nation’s military.
“We also offer our own deep thanks and appreciation to all OSP personnel, who are continuing to serve our state with courage and dedication during this critical time.”
If you would like to be part of Operation Well Wish, videos may be sent to ODVAInformation@odva.state.or.us.
Or send your cards, letters or other printed materials in an unlicked envelope to:
ATTN: Operation Well Wish
Oregon Veterans’ Home
600 N. 5th St.
Lebanon, OR 97355