Veterans showcase their 4th of July parade float - Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island
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Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island

 

Veterans showcase their 4th of July parade float

Providence Vets with their 4th of July parade float

From left: Veterans Wayne Lambert, Donald Rogers, Brian Buzzee, and Donald Ross, along with Program Manager Bill Carr, standing by their first ever 4th of July parade float.

By Story and photo by Katy Americo, Community Outreach Specialist
Friday, July 6, 2012

Two months ago, several Veterans in the Providence VA Medical Center’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program at the Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol began work on their first ever parade float for the Bristol 4th of July parade.  Yesterday, their hard work paid off as they showcased their "No Veteran, No America" themed parade float down Hope Street.

This float was designed and built by homeless Veterans in the Veterans Transitional Supportive Program (VTSP), which is part of the larger Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program.  The VTSP  program is a joint partnership between the VA and the RI State Veterans Home, offering transitional housing and psychosocial rehabilitation services.  The float also served as an opportunity to increase public awareness of VA homeless services and programs.  The phone number for the National Homeless Veterans Hotline (1-877-4AID-VET) was displayed prominently on both sides of the float. 

The VTSP float  led the way as the first military-themed float of many and was warmly greeted by parade attendees.  The patriotism and pride swelling up through the crowd of spectators could be felt on every block along the parade route. The downtown area was jam-packed with spectators lined up four and five rows deep on either side of the street.  The gratitude of parade attendees, young and old, was palpable , with people shouting praise and words of thanks to our Veterans along the parade route.  Even when words were not spoken, the waves, head nods, high fives, and WWII veterans taking their hats off in a show of respect spoke volumes.

Towards the end of the parade, when parade marchers and spectators were tired from the heat of the day and all were ready to sit down and sip a cold drink, someone in the sea of spectators began to chant “Vets! Vets! Vets! Vets!”.  Others immediately joined in—first one side of the street and then the other—before long, the entire block was shouting in unison: "Vets! Vets! Vets! Vets!"… A fitting tribute to those who selflessly serve and have served our Nation.

The Providence VA Medical Center’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program is an aggressive homeless outreach program to help homeless and justice-involved Veterans “break contact” with the streets, offering wrap-around services as well as HUD-VASH vouchers and grant per diem beds in the community, in addition to transitional beds available through VTSP.  For more information about this program, please contact Bill Carr, Ph.D., at 401-273-7100, ext. 1673.

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