Terry Weakley, public affairs officer for the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, hasn’t set foot in the Roseburg VA Medical Center since March 13, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he and other members of the VVA wanted to show their support for the nurses working there. So they pulled together a rally on Northwest Garden Valley Boulevard outside the VA entrance Monday morning.
Weakley was joined close to 20 others, including VVA members and members of the supporting group Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America.
Waving flags and signs and generating continual honks of support from passersby, the group aimed to show the workers they appreciate the care being offered to veterans.
“We just thank them from the bottom of our hearts. They’re a godsend for what they’re doing,” Weakley said.
At a time when the VA’s been in the news for controversies, such as a video of the director and a group of staff dancing that drew attention from The Oregonian newspaper, or the bad news that four staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. Weakley said he wants to spread a positive message.
“Somebody needs to support them. I think they’re doing an excellent job,” he said.
Weakley said he misses going to the VVA’s office at the VA. He’s been social distancing at a place he owns in Eastern Oregon.
The Vietnam veterans are at an age that makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19, so the rallygoers were doing their best to keep some distance between each other. Some were wearing masks.
Weakley said he expects there will be some changes in how things operate once the VVA members are able to return to their office at the VA, like wearing masks on campus.
Weakley said he was skeptical at first about how well things were going in Douglas County with respect to handling the pandemic. But now, with just 24 cases in the whole county and no deaths, he’s feeling much better about it.
“This county needs to be proud of itself,” he said.