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.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(4) comments


"Some were wearing masks," is rather like reporting that some swimmers were not peeing in the pool. Supporting nurses would include measures like not helping the virus propagate.


Today, the VA reported 11,163 coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 870 deaths.



The VA reported another 51 coronavirus deaths today.


The Senate’s top Democrat on Sunday called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain why it allowed the use of unproven drug hydroxychloroquine on veterans for the coronavirus, saying patients may have been put at unnecessary risk. “There are concerns that they are using this drug when the medical evidence says it doesn’t help and could hurt…recent analysis of VA hospital data that showed there were more deaths among patients given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, including how much patients knew about the drug’s risks before taking it.” Schumer said in an interview with The Associated Press.


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