Pint-sized patriotic beauty queen heads up campaign of love for veterans

Special to Leader-Press


When going to the hospital, most patients can count the support of their family. Local medical facilities make it easy to visit hospitalized family and friends. The difference with veterans’ hospitals is location.

There are 153 veterans hospitals in the United States and many of the patients are forced to be away from their home for extended periods. Not all families can afford the money or time of spending extended periods away from home, even when it is to help hospitalized veterans.

Little Miss Five Hills De’Ziyah Gilbert is working to ensure that the nation’s heroes feel loved and appreciated this Valentine’s Day. The House Creek kindergartener is heading up a Valentines for Veterans campaign asking those in the community to make cards that she will deliver to the Olin E. Teague Veterans Medical Facility and the Central Texas Veterans Nursing Home both in Temple.

“I wanted to do my project on helping Veterans because my mommy and daddy both served our country and most of all my to honor my cousin who was a soldier that died before I was born,” Gilbert said. “I didn’t get a chance to hug him and tell him I’m proud of him.”

Loneliness and depression are common problems in hospital patients even when they have family and friends near. When forced to be apart to receive the care they need, patients at VA hospitals are more prone to these problems. Gilbert and members of the Copperas Cove Five Hills royalty will deliver the valentines on Feb. 16 during a special visit.

“I just want all Veterans to know that they are loved and giving them Valentine’s Day cards will show them that we care about them and love them. I will give them all big hugs one by one when we visit them,” Gilbert said.

This is the sixth year that the titleholders have conducted the Valentines for Veterans card drive in Copperas Cove. This year, Gilbert has partnered with H-E-B, Plus-Copperas Cove which has provided nearly three dozen boxes of valentines for the project.

“Being apart from your family is one of the many prices that we as service members paid to serve our country. Once our veterans have completed that service, separation should not be an issue for them,” said Shannoda Gilbert, De’Ziyah’s mother who is also a veteran. “But, there are too many veterans in hospitals that need our help and our concern. To help hospitalized veterans is one small way we can repay them for the sacrifices they have already made.”

Cards for veterans may be delivered to House Creek Elementary, 951 Lutheran Church Road, where De’Ziyah Gilbert attends school or the CCISD District Service & Training Center, 408 S. Main. 

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