Give a Little, Get so Much - Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island
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Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island

 

Give a Little, Get so Much

Veterans and volunteers on the beach at the Veterans Affairs Amp Surf Clinic in Narragansett, R.I., June 11, 2016. (Providence VA Medical Center photo by Cidalia M. Tavares)

Veterans and volunteers on the beach at the Veterans Affairs Amp Surf Clinic in Narragansett, R.I., June 11, 2016. The event was a rehabilitation-related adaptive surfing clinic for Veterans with disabilities hosted by the VA Boston Healthcare System. (Providence VA Medical Center photo by Cidalia M. Tavares)

By Cidalia M. Tavares, Primary Care-Charge Registered Nurse, New Bedford VA Outpatient Clinic
Friday, July 15, 2016

On June 11, 2016, I volunteered my nursing skills at the Amp Surf Clinic in Narragansett, R.I. with the Boston VA.

I was serving our American heroes with my passion and nursing skills, but they served me so much more. These Veterans had the label “disabled,” but on this beautiful sunny day, they were “able.” I walked out as a cheerleader-nurse, a vision I dreamed back in High School that had finally came true!

These heroes inspired me with every movement they made and what they shared with me. It was priceless. These are the things that history books do not capture. These electrifying men and women were surfing. Some Veterans were amputees and some had spinal cord injuries. I cannot ride a bicycle, but I am “able to” if I really wanted. I do not have any excuse; these Veterans reminded me that I can do anything if I choose. We all can do anything – with disabilities or not – with support from one another. These heroes showed me and my children what can be done with courage.

One Veteran shared with me he that was having a great day at the event, and that he only had one bad day in his life while he looked at his amputated leg – amazing perception and outlook on life! Another Veteran told me, “What you volunteers are doing here today is better than a pill, counseling session or visit with the doctor.” I was so surprised by that, I really did not think what I was doing was anything special. I was simply following my passion; being a nurse and hoping my actions spoke louder than words.

In a world where there is so much negativity, we can be the good that we want to see in the world. With the volunteers, Veterans and staff, there was so much positive energy that it filled everyone’s heart. These feelings restored my belief that humanity is still good. While cell phones are everywhere today, hardly any cell phones were visible on the beach – everyone was in the moment. It was beautiful to witness and be part of. I could never have imagined I could give so little, but receive so much in return. Nursing is a work of the heart!

Thank you to all the Veterans, volunteers and staff for adding so much love and happiness to my world!

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