This week is the 40th annual observance of VA’s National Salute to Veteran Patients, an opportunity to pay tribute to America’s heroes – the men and women we proudly care for and serve.  VA facilities across the nation are honoring these men and women, who have given selflessly to protect the freedoms we hold dear, by reflecting on our obligation to serve those who have served us.

Each of us who are privileged to live in this nation has a special place in our hearts for these defenders of freedom.  That is why VA takes time during the week of Valentine’s Day to encourage our community to express affection and respect for those we admire.

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During National Salute Week, many American citizens visit Veterans to thank them for what they have done for our country in the past and support them in the challenges they face today.  They come face-to-face with the cost of our freedom and see for themselves that freedom is not free.  It is earned with their valor, commitment and undying patriotism, which is worthy of our time, energy and appreciation.

Everyone has the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of Veterans receiving care at VA facilities and in the community. Hundreds of thousands of Valentines cards and letters from people of all ages are pouring into VA hospitals addressed “Dear Veteran.”

Celebrities and civic officials at national and local levels are visiting VA hospitals and Veterans community living facilities.  Civic leaders and