Mississippi Veterans rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated

The vaccines are made available to veterans living at the Collins and Jackson campuses.

Veterans getting vaccine

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - On Saturday, residents at two Mississippi State Veterans Homes are receiving the long awaited Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccines are made available to veterans living at the Collins and Jackson campuses.

As James Hill rolled up his sleeve to get his show, he said he’s used to being on the front-lines.

“I served a total of 18 years,” the veteran said. “I served in the Army’s special forces for a while and then I was in Naval Intelligence.”

Now he finds himself in a different fight.

Hill was one of the first former servicemen at the Mississippi State Veterans Home in Jackson to get vaccinated.

“I think it’s one step for us being able to go outside freely, and interact with other people, having family members come visit, and friends come visit,” said Hill. “That’s what it means to me.”

Hill is one of roughly 90 veterans at the home who volunteered to get the shot.

Joining him is Jimmie Stowe.

Stowe served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years.

The veteran said he actually contracted the virus in 2020.

“I come this close to death, I was on my last breathe,” Stowe recalled.

After coming close to death, Stowe said he knew right away that he was going to take the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it became available to him.

“I’d do anything to get that vaccine, anything,” Stowe expressed. “That vaccine means the world to me.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the veterans to stay cooped up in their rooms for safety reasons, and Douglas Magee admits, it’s been challenging because he misses his loved ones.

“It’s been hard not to be able to visit with our families,” said Magee, who retired as a Colonel after serving in the U.S. Army for 21 years.

See, Magee has two daughters can only talk to them through the phone or glass window

He said getting this shot now brings him one step closer toward being able to physically touch and hold them again.

He gets emotional just thinking about that moment.

“It’s going to be wonderful,” he said as his eyes started watering. “I’m looking forward to that, and to get hugs from my grandchildren.”

“They have been proud men and women, they’re strong men and women, it’s why they were volunteering right off the bat, they want this vaccination,” said Ray Coleman, director of communications for the Mississippi Veterans Affairs. “They have not been forced, they want this vaccination because they know what it means moving forward.”

The second dose of the vaccine will be made available within the next 21 days.

The facility in Oxford will receive its shipment on Wednesday.

The home in Kosciusko will get its doses in Friday.

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