On the day before a big game, most football teams are strategizing and watching clips of their opponent to determine the weak links on the field. For Virginia Tech Hokie Seniors, a quick trip to visit Veterans at the Salem VA Medical Center turned out to be the best strategy of all.
Arriving on a Friday afternoon in September, Coach Frank Beamer led his VT seniors to a different playing field where the scars of past battles are still being addressed and the “players” are Veterans from WWII through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Virginia Tech was set to play Bowling Green on the following Saturday during a special Military Appreciation Day on the Hokies’ home field. What better way to kick off the weekend than to pay a visit to Salem and thank those who have worn the uniform to protect our freedoms?
Residents and staff of the Community Living Center (CLC) were thrilled to meet Coach Beamer and the players. Entering the room to an audible gasp, VT players smiled, posed for photographs, autographed flags and introduced themselves to the crowd.
“We just wanted to take a little time to come down and personally thank the men and women who have served our country,” stated Beamer. He busily went around the room and shook every hand there and thanked Veterans for protecting our country.
One bedridden Veteran, a huge Hokie fan, shook the Coach’s hand and said he just couldn’t believe after all these years he had actually met him in person.
“I watch every game I can but you have no idea how special this day is for me,” he said. The other Veterans in the room were very much in agreement as players worked their way through and spoke with everyone gathered for the special Hokie welcome.
CLC is back to normal now but they have an autographed flag that will hang proudly in their new football sports den.
And the Hokies? They went on to win against Bowling Green, 37-0. The game was televised on ESPN-U and photos from the prior day’s visit were shown throughout the game. It may have been that extra strategy they picked up from the Salem VAMC Veterans to inspire them to win the game along with Coach Beamer’s winning style – at least we like to think so.
Thanks, Coach – you’ll never know how special this visit was to Salem. Go Hokies! We’ll be cheering you on!
Submitted by Ann Benois, Salem VA Medical Center.