Rep. asking community to write letters, cards to residents at RI Veterans Home
Operation Senior Quarantine Cheer was spurred by a letter from a veteran who explained that morale is low because of continued Covid restrictions.
BRISTOL, R.I. (WLNE) – A local representative is gathering letters and cards for residents of the Rhode Island Veterans Home in response to an email she received from a veteran living there who says they are still being isolated to protect from Covid-19, leaving them longing for more social interaction.
Veteran Jack Choquette writes that they’ve essentially been restricted to their rooms 24/7 since mid March, even though there have been very few cases there in the last few months.
In a two page letter to the governor and general assembly members, Choquette says, “Yes, after 166 days of being confined I am angry, I think you’d be too.”
“He sounded very frustrated, sad, a little angry. And quite frankly I was concerned about depression,” said Representative Camille Vella-Wilkinson who sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
The letter describes how the veterans have not been allowed to walk the facility, visit the cafe, barbershop, or bank on site, or visit with veterans in other ‘neighborhoods,’ painting a lonely picture of life at the home.
The letter indicates the home has also had very few cases since May.
“They recognize that the state or the administration is trying to keep them safe,” said Vella-Wilkinson. “Safe from who?”
His words got the attention of several legislators, including Vella-Wilkinson, a veteran herself.
“Being a veteran myself, married to a veteran, I remember what it was like when my husband was stationed outside of the area: mail became a very big element in raising morale,” said Vella-Wilkinson.
And so began Operation: Senior Quarantine Cheer.
Vella-Wilkinson is enlisting the community to put together a mail bag of cards, letters, and drawings. She then plans to mail everything over to the veterans home as often as possible, for as long as they continue to be isolated.
“They’re Rhode Islanders. They gave up their time with their family to put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedom,” said Vella-Wilkinson. “Some of the veterans at the home are quite elderly, and I don’t want this to be their last season and it’s in isolation. That’s just too sad.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the home said in part that they recognize that the changes implemented may be hard for some residents but that they are simply following state and CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
If you’d like to participate in Operation: Senior Quarantine Cheer, you can send cards, letters, drawings, or even stamps so you can have a pen pal, to:
786 Church Avenue
Warwick, RI 02889