Making A Difference: Florida A&M Football visits Hampton VA

From Florida A&M Sports Information:

HAMPTON, Va. |Every now and then it’s good to remind fans: College student-athletes do more than perform on the football field and inside the classroom. Members of the Florida A&M University football team visited the Hampton VA Medical Center on Friday afternoon in advance of Saturday’s Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) football opener at Norfolk State.

The student-athletes, along with head coach Willie Simmons, associate head football coach James Spady and FAMU First Lady Sharon Robinson, spent time with veterans, as well as signed posters and posed for photos.

“We try to expose these guys to new things as much as we can,” Simmons said. “A lot of our guys have family members who have served in this area, so any chance we can get to give back to a group of people who have done so much for us, we want to take advantage of it. It’s a great experience and I’m really glad we were able to do this. This is our first time coming to an actually hospital. We’ve done some Civil Rights type things in the past, but this is the first time we’ve done a hospital. I think our guys got much more out of coming to see what goes on in an actually VA hospital.

“On the road we’ve never done something to this magnitude. We try to do something educationally with every road trip. When we went to (Washington) D.C., we went to the Smithsonian and when we went to Montgomery (Ala.) last year, we went to the lynching museum. So again, we are just trying to expose these guys to what else is out there.”

The Hampton VA Medical Center, which also has outpatient clinics in Elizabeth City, N.C. Chesapeake, Va. And Virginia Beach, Va., is a world class facility with highly skilled and compassionate staff. The medical center is a leader in technology and innocation providing health care services to Veterans in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. In addition, the Medical Center is geographically positioned among one of the largest DoD active duty and military retiree populations in the United States.  As a result, the Medical Center has seen a seven-percent increase among Veterans seeking VA care.  

The Hampton VAMC, which is primarily affiliated with the Eastern Virginia Medical Center, recently opened a state-of-the-art Women’s Clinic designed to provide gender specific care under one roof.  Additional expansions at the medical center include the Spinal Cord Injury Unit and Mental Health Unit.  Rich with history, the medical center is proud to be the health care provider of choice for Hampton Roads Veterans.

“This was a huge trip for us to have the opportunity to visit the Hampton VA Medical Center and just see what some of these people go through and what they went through” Florida A&M redshirt senior linebacker Elijah Richardson, who was recently named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy, said. “These veterans are great people for this country and what they did. Just to see the way they look at life and their aspect of life could be life changing. There is a lot you can learn from this experience. 

“For me, I am just taking it in and never take things for granted. One guys told me that it could be as simple as putting up Christmas lights and and then the next day you could have a spinal injury and you are in a place like this. It’s a huge experience for us as a team.”

The Mission of the Hampton VA Medical Center is to honor America’s Veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well being. 

In addition, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) operates one of the largest health care systems in the world and provides training for a majority of America’s medical, nursing, and allied health professionals. Roughly 60 percent of all medical residents obtain a portion of their training at VA hospitals and our medical research programs benefit society at-large.

Today’s VHA has roots spanning over 150 years and continues to meet Veterans’ changing medical, surgical, and quality of life needs. New programs provide treatment for traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide prevention, women Veterans, and more.

In recent years VHA has opened more outpatient clinics, established telemedicine, vet centers, and suicide prevention hotlines, and developed other services to accommodate a diverse and ever-changing Veteran population. VHA continually evolves and cultivates on-going cutting-edge medical research and innovation to improve the lives of America’s patriots.

The Rattlers (2-1) open MEAC play on Saturday against Norfolk State (1-3). Kickoff against the Spartans is set for 4 p.m. from William “Dick” Price Stadium and the game can be streamed live on ESPN3.

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