As part of the National Salute to Veteran Patients week, several CBS4 reporters and anchors visited the Denver VA Medical Center this week as a way of paying tribute to — and expressing appreciation for — veterans. Jim Benemann, Tom Mustin and Brian Maass all spent time at the VA hospital in Denver this week thanking military veterans for their service and their sacrifice.

Tom Mustin visits with a veteran

CBS4’s Tom Mustin visits with a veteran. (credit: Denver VA Medical Center)

The week of Feb. 14 each year is the annual time set aside to say thanks to the 98,000 veterans of the U.S. armed services who receive care every day in VA medical centers, clinics and nursing homes. Maass visited on Thursday with veterans undergoing chemotherapy treatment and others taking part in physical rehabilitation, and described his experience below.

Each veteran took the time to discuss with me their years of service with the military along with their current medical situation.

One Vietnam War veteran talked about how he vividly recalls being sent to Vietnam via a troop carrier that took 23 days to travel from Oakland, Calif., to Vietnam. He said it was the longest 23 days of his life and described it as if it had happened last week, when in reality it was in 1967. He is being treated for prostate cancer at the VA.

Another Vietnam War vet from Monument was undergoing physical therapy for various injuries suffered when a booby trapped bus blew up, shearing off part of a leg, leaving shrapnel embedded in his wrist and destroying his eardrums.

CBS4's Brian Maass visits with a veteran.

CBS4’s Brian Maass visits with a veteran. (credit: Denver VA Medical Center)

He recalled that he was not on duty that day but had volunteered to drive a USO bus which had been booby trapped. While he suffers numerous ailments, he had a smile on his face and said he was glad he was still alive.

I was fortunate to come across one World War II veteran who regaled us with stories of serving alongside Gen. George S. Patton.

While some veterans are critical of the medical care they receive at VA medical facilities and are unhappy with the red tape and bureacracy, the majority I encountered said they were receiving top notch care from skilled and caring professionals. They were highly complimentary of the VA and its staff.

On my tour, I was fortunate to be shown around by Renee Ambrose, a volunteer who was as compassionate as she was delightful.

I feel privileged and honored to have spent some time today with our military veterans who were generous with their stories, their smiles and who have sacrificed so much.

LINK: National Salute to Veteran Patients