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Operation “Family Reunion” marks return of visitation at State Veterans Homes

Operation Family Reunion

Photo courtesy of Mississippi Veterans Affairs

Operation “Family Reunion” continues as Mississippi Veterans Affairs (MSVA) opens its homes for full visitation for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began over a year ago. 

It began at the Veterans Home in Collins a week ago, and Operation “Family Reunion” moved to the capital today as family members were able to visit residents at the Jackson Veterans Home. 

MSVA has provided scheduled visits for families during a three-day window. With certain COVID-19 restrictions still in place, due to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) guidance, only two family members per resident were allowed. MSVA Executive Director Stacey Pickering offered the perspective of what this moment meant for everyone involved. 

“Keeping our residents safe has been our number one priority during the pandemic,” Pickering said. “But I can truly say that bringing families back together was right there atop the list as well. Our team members go home every day and see their loved ones face to face in the same space. Our residents and their families have not had that opportunity for over a year. And we have done everything in our power to make this moment as safe as possible.” 

Each attendee was tested for COVID-19 before entering the facility and will be tested during future visitations for the “foreseeable future.” All visitors wore masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) was worn when necessary.

Photo courtesy of Mississippi Veterans Affairs

The MSVA states that over 90% of the approximately 430 residents at the four State Veterans Homes in Collins, Jackson, Kosciusko and Oxford has been vaccinated. For those residents that decided not to receive a vaccination, visitation was limited to their personal rooms instead of open and common areas of the home. 

When it comes to the importance of the vaccine within the MSVA, Pickering recently shared a story with SuperTalk Mississippi about a conversation he had with a World War II veteran.

“I had one resident who literally said ‘this is our D-Day. This is our chance to beat back this virus that has rampaged this home, and my friends and my family members,'” he recalled.

Photo courtesy of Mississippi Veterans Affairs

Operation “Family Reunion” will continue next week at the Veterans Homes in Kosciusko and Oxford.

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