Vernon Humberd sends a message to his loved ones.Addy and Aubree Sloan, Kane, Heather, Kashlynn and Shirley Hayes wave to Gene Hayes Tuesday.Mike Smith checks in a line of cars during Tuesday’s parade.Lois Yost holds up a sign for her family with the assistance of Registered Nurse Staff Development Coordinator Monica Bonderer Tuesday afternoon.Lori Milligan and grandson Weston Meyer wave to Robert Lobb.

Missouri Veterans Home hosts first guests in since April

Hundreds came out to visit the Cameron Missouri Veterans Home with many seeing their close relatives for the first time, face-to-face, in months.

With the veterans home cancelling visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 50 vehicles participated in the first of what Cameron Veterans Home Administrator David Hibler hopes there will be more drive-thru parades to come.

“This is nice for the guys. They’re getting to see some of their family and it cheers them up a little bit,” said retired Navy Gunner’s Mate Kenneth Rucker. “A lot of the guys were looking forward to today. The depression rate has been pretty high here. Everything else is opening up, but nothing here. It makes it hard.”

Cars began lining up in the veterans home parking lot early Tuesday afternoon with the line wrapping around the building by the parade’s kickoff. Parade organizer checked in each car, then called down to fellow staff members to line up veterans with their visitors. For Lori Milligan and daughter Kara Meyer, they used the event to celebrate veteran Robert Lobb, who marked his 91st birthday Tuesday.

“We have grandkids, great grandkids, sons and daughters for Robert Lobb. It’s his 91st birthday,” said Milligan, who drove up from Richmond Tuesday. “This is the first time we’ve seen him since the first of March. It’s been great to see him. We Face-timed with him some, but it’s very challenging. I think just getting them outside and seeing the smiling faces of their family was indescribable. You could tell they were enjoying it. We weren’t sure what we were going to do for his birthday, then we got a letter in the mail about the parade. We thought, what a great day to celebrate.”

Hibler said the parade is an event unique to the veterans home. Staff spent the last three weeks planning for the parade and orchestrating it while under social distancing measures to prevent COVID-19 from infecting residents. 

“It’s just something we brainstormed. How can we let the veterans see their families and the families see their veterans?” Hibler said. “We thought, why not do a drive-thru parade. That’s what we’re calling it - a drive-thru parade. A lot of veterans are doing window visits, Skype, FaceTime or Google Duo. They get to see them on video, but today it was in person. They were very excited. They’ve been making signs for their loved ones for when they pass through. Signs about how the love them, how they miss them - different things. We’re going to do it once a month.”


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