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VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

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National Salute to Veteran Patients

VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) opened our doors to the public during the 34th annual National Salute to Veteran Patients Feb. 15 - 17. During the National Salute, VAs nationwide invite the community to come visit Veterans to thank them for what they have done for our country in the past and support them in the challenges they face today.

Veteran William Brown with University of Pittsburgh Panther mascot and cheerleaders.

Veteran William Brown with University of Pittsburgh Panther mascot and cheerleaders.

Donna Bailey and her band perform jazz selections in the hospital lobby.

One Veteran declared that his favorite part of the celebration was listening to Donna Bailey and her band perform jazz selections "because he is old school."

Veteran Julius Quin with University of Pittsburgh cheerleaders.

Veteran Julius Quin with University of Pittsburgh cheerleaders.

Rocky Bleier and John Banaszak signed autographs for Veterans.

Army Veteran and former Pittsburgh Steeler halfback Rocky Bleier and Marine Veteran and former Pittsburgh Steeler defensive tackle John Banaszak signed autographs for Veterans. "If I can put a smile on the faces of these Veterans, it's more than worth it," says Banaszak.

Kim Adley shares an embrace with a Veteran.

"Who better to deliver Valentines than the Queen of Hearts?" said Kim Adley. "I’m here to spread a little love and cheer, and let the Veterans know that someone cares and appreciates them. I look at it as an honor to be here and show the Veterans how much I appreciate their service to our country."

World War II Mule Soldier David Hamilton, shown here in his original uniform, sings a patriotic tune with Eugene Faiella.

World War II Mule Soldier David Hamilton, shown here in his original uniform, sings a patriotic tune with Eugene Faiella.

An Armbrust Veterans group visits Veteran Michael Michalek.

An Armbrust Veterans group visits Veteran Michael Michalek.

U.S. Army Reserves Veteran David Newell, better known as Mr. McFeely, the speedy delivery man on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, delivering Valentines to Veteran Robert Spencer.

Veteran Robert Spencer (left) and U.S. Army Reserves Veteran David Newell, better known as Mr. McFeely, the speedy delivery man on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, participated in VA Pittsburgh's National Salute for the fourth year by delivering Valentines to Veterans.

VAPHS Protestant Chaplain John Davidson; Heidi Nevala, community relations director for Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner; and Nick Demicheli, Veterans and outreach coordinator for U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire visit with a Veteran.

VAPHS Protestant Chaplain John Davidson; Heidi Nevala, community relations director for Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner; and Nick Demicheli, Veterans and outreach coordinator for U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire visit with a Veteran.

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"The National Salute to Veteran Patients gives everyone a chance to let those who have given so much to our Nation know that they are not forgotten," says VAPHS voluntary program leader, Karen Cinnamon.

Citizens, young and old, once again sent thousands of Valentine's Day cards and letters to VAPHS, which guests helped deliver to both inpatients and outpatients.

U.S. Army Reserves Veteran David Newell, better known as Mr. McFeely, the speedy delivery man on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, participated in VA Pittsburgh's National Salute for the fourth year.

"You learn so much about people when you visit with them," explains Newell. "Even though you know they are having a rough time, the Veterans that I meet are smiling and getting a kick out of receiving Valentines made by children. It brings back memories of their families and childhood. Some of them are all alone, but they're in good spirits. A lot of that is due to the great care they are getting from VA."

James Hill, Veterans and military affairs liaison for U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy, was honored to participate in the week's events. The Marine Veteran served in both Vietnam and Iraq before devoting his career to helping other Veterans navigate the Federal government. "I believe that you should do all that you can do to support your Veterans," says Hill.

Click through the slideshow above to get a glimpse of just a few of our distinguished National Salute guests.