AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The 14th annual Welcome Home Celebration for local veterans and their families happened Saturday morning at the Thomas E. Creek VA Medical Center.
The event that started with less than 100 veterans has grown into something 14 years later with close to a thousand.
The Amarillo VA Health Care System Welcome Home Event offered veterans and their families a free to-go lunch from United Supermarkets, a goodie bag and the veterans also entered into a free raffle with door prizes.
Mark Rielo, associate director at the Amarillo VA said this event served as a thank you to local veterans.
“I think it’s very important to always remember what they have done for us. I don’t think we would be here right now if some of our heroes had not given up their lives or given up a part of their lives. And now we are here to give them the best care possible because that is what they deserve,” said Rielo.
Rielo added he hopes when a veteran comes out to the Welcome Home event, they see some of the services that the Amarillo VA can provide them.
Nurse Executive Dr. Catherine Ewing at the Amarillo VA said this event serves as an outreach opportunity to veterans.
“We do sometimes get veterans in, who maybe are not so into, there are a lot of us who don’t like going to the doctor, so it’s our opportunity to really reach out to them and maybe touch them in a moment and see that we are just normal people and we really want to help them and care for them, so it really helps alleviate that fear,” added Dr. Ewing.
Dr. Ewing said it is important to recognize the sacrifices veterans have made while serving their country.
“Many times we celebrate birthdays of our children or we’re coming up on the holidays, there are men and women right now in the world serving our country that won’t get to spend that time with their family. It takes a lot to be away from your family and have that unconditional support and love all the time when sometimes you’re in harm’s way,” said Dr. Ewing.
Also at Saturday’s Welcome Home event, the Amarillo VA offered COVID-19 booster shots for Pfizer, Moderna, and the J&J vaccine. Dr. Ewing said their walk-in clinic at the VA is open Monday thru Friday.
Alongside the COVID-19 vaccinations, the VA was also giving out free flu shots.