Coast Guardsmen volunteer during National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— More than 60 Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary members concluded a week of volunteering during National Salute to Hospitalized Veteran Week, Friday at Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Healthcare Facility in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Fireman Orlando Torres, crew member at Coast Guard Station Sand Key, Fla., escorts a veteran while volunteering at Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Healthcare Facility Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Coast Guard members volunteered at the VA for the National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week that takes place annually in the month of February.

Fireman Orlando Torres, crew member at Coast Guard Station Sand Key, Fla., escorts a veteran while volunteering at Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Healthcare Facility Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo

“This was such a great experience,” said Chief Petty Officer Brian Sambor, a crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Joshua Appleby, a 175-foot Keeper Class Coastal Buoy Tender homeported at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “They [veterans] embody the sacrifice and commitment each of us strives to emulate, and simply saying ‘thank you’ and spending a few minutes chatting with the veterans did a world of good for them and the participants.”

NSHV week is celebrated each year in February and supports more than 98,000 veterans of the U.S. Armed Services who are cared for in Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers, outpatient clinics and nursing homes.

While volunteering, the participants were able to visit with the veterans, share stories and escort them to the VA’s events.

“It was the first time I’ve been able to visit with a member of the Coast Guard since I’ve been here,” said George Riggs, a Coast Guard veteran and resident at the VA’s Community Living Center. “It’s nice to see someone in my service because there are so few Coast Guardsmen compared to other branches of the military.”

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