Veterans see their families for the first time in months during a parade

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Augusta (WJBF)- For some patients at the Charlie Norwood VA Hospital on Wrightsboro Road, it’s been months since they saw their family members. So organizers at the VA Hospital decided to hold a Family Parade to finally bring families face to face.

A bugler played military anthems and patriotic songs as families of veterans drove by cheering and waving at their loved ones.

“It was awesome seeing his reaction on his face and his wheelchair and I hope now he sees there is light at the end of the tunnel and we’ll be able to visit soon,” said James Donahue, a family member of one of the veterans.

Families decorated their vehicles with signs and balloons and waved flags.

One family member said that being able to see her grandfather after so long was an amazing feeling.

“I mean thank you to the VA and everyone that put this on. I mean, it really meant a lot, not only to us but I know all the residents here and everyone. So we really appreciate it. Thank you so much.”

Oscar Rodriguez is the acting Assistant Director and Chief Financial Officer at Charlie Norwood VA. He said that he is a veteran himself and the parade was something that was important for everyone.

“We love our veterans. They’ve been over ninety days without having any face to face contact with their families and we wanted to make sure they had that opportunity,” said Rodriguez.

Organizers had strict social distancing rules during the parade. Everyone had to wear a mask and stay at least six feet from the patients unless they recently tested negative for COVID-19.

“Of course we continue to do our safety measures and utilizing C-D-C guidelines and making sure we continue to have the spacing accordingly to our–for our families and ourselves. And, ah, as you all see we’re wearing masks when in close contact with our team,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said that the response to the parade was heartwarming.

“The families just walking out here, so happy, so emotional, so grateful and this is what we’re here for. We love our veterans so this is what we’re here for,” said Rodriguez.

Organizers said they expected about fifty vehicles in the parade but they believe more than seventy-five attended.

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