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Veterans who fought for our country are now fighting loneliness during pandemic

Posted at 5:58 AM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 15:16:28-05

PUEBLO COUNTY — With Veterans Day just 24 hours away, we're taking a look at the work one southern Colorado nursing home is doing to help those who have fought and served our country and are now fighting loneliness and sadness.

Staff members at the Pueblo VA Community Living Center say the men and women here have not left this center since February or March and having to quarantine so long has many of them feeling forgotten.

"A lot of times these guys fight overseas and then come home and they are forgotten about and that shouldn't be the case," said Dillon Thomas, a recreational therapist at the facility.

Thomas says there are 24 veterans who call this facility home. The residents now have to eat in their rooms due to COVID-19 and are missing that social interaction that we all need. Volunteers at the center are no longer able to come because of the pandemic, so instead, they have to volunteer their time virtually. As a result, many of the programs that take place at the center have been put on hold.

Staff members have to work diligently to keep the health and spirits of these veterans up. One unique way this facility is able to have visitors is by setting up "walkie-talkie" visits. Family members and loved ones can come sit near a clear window and speak to their veteran family member through a walkie-talkie.

"It's hard to have to tell them that they can't eat with each other anymore or they can't have visitors," Thomas explained. "We just have to do the best we can to keep them all safe."

Using this unique visiting system, News5 spoke to one veteran who didn't want to be identified, but he did tell us what he uses to help cope with the lonely days.

"Just pick up your Bible and start reading," the veteran said. "Sometimes my roommates start reading with me and it really helps me out a lot," he said.

One way you can show these veterans you care is by writing a letter or a little note of kindness to the people who live here. Your letter doesn't have to be addressed to anyone in particular, just make sure you send it to 2600 Oakshire lane in Pueblo.

On Wednesday, a group of veterans will drive-by the nursing home with signs that say "Never Forgotten." Some of the people in the nursing home haven't left since the pandemic began and many of them feel lonely.

The drive-by parade will be at 11 a.m. on Veterans Day at the Pueblo VA Community Living Center, which is located at 2600 Oakshire Lane.

"They fought for our freedom and we wouldn't be able to do what we've been doing without these guys so the next time you see one tell them thank you," Thomas said.