The VA medical center gives out free masks to Veterans

Veterans Voices

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — A long line of cars piled into the parking lot at the James E. Van Zandt Medical Center Wednesday morning on the promise that each Veteran would receive 1 free mask.

The turnout was so successful that volunteers started to distribute the masks 30 minutes early to accommodate the demand.

The idea came from a meeting with the medical center’s director, says Shaun Shenk–the chief of stakeholder relations–who says it’s the Veterans Associations way of giving back to the community.

Shenk says three manufacturing companies donated ample elastic and cloth for the masks, and the VA had no problem finding volunteers to make them.

“Next thing you know, the 40 volunteers showed up. Doctors, nurses, admins, to come down to make masks,” said Shenk.

All 2,000 of them were made during the few spare moments healthcare workers have in their day.

Over the past two weeks the VA has already distributed around 1,000 masks and they planned to hand out at least 700 today, undoubtedly reaching their goal.

If you missed the handout, however, Shenk says not to worry. As long as you have your Veteran’s credentials, you can still get a mask if you have an appointment.

Even Veterans who don’t live in Altoona can request one through their local VA Community Outpatient Clinic.

Each Veteran gets one re-washable, re-usable mask made by people who stitch things up for a living.

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