Orlando VA Healthcare System
Hop on the Virtual Reality Flight
Coming and going as Veterans please at the Orlando VA Medical Center Community Living Center (CLC) is a thing of the past. The new normal is within the safe walls of the facility and away from potential exposure to COVID-19.
With this change, the CLC had to birth a new culture of home for Veterans. No longer can events take place or visitors walk through the doors. There had to be a way to allow Veterans to still feel freedom without risking their safety.
That is when CLC Recreational Therapist and U.S. Navy Veteran, Roger Tabatt, stepped in and brought more than just a new culture, but a whole new reality.
Veterans can now visit Paris or enjoy a scuba diving trip. The CLC residents skip the plane ride and no longer need to pack a suitcase! They simply place Virtual Reality goggles on and away they go in seconds.
Mr. Tabatt’s passion for healing Veterans is one that is not limited and is always in search to make Veterans feel alive and connected. He says, “With the COVID-19 pandemic causing the lockdown and prevention of outings as well as family visitation, I thought we had to do something to solve this. After experiencing Virtual Reality myself, I discovered a new way to bring the love of being out of the CLC without leaving the CLC.”
The goggles are more than a getaway for Veterans, the experience is an escape that triggers fond memories and connections from the past in and out of their military service. This stimulation instantly brings a smile to their faces. Whether it is a chuckle or sounds of aw, the connection to the retreat allows Veterans to forget about the pandemic and enter a world of tranquility.
Mr. William King, 91-year-old U.S. Army Veteran CLC Resident, went back in time as he walked the beautiful streets of Paris. Sounds of French accordion music and views of the Eifel Tower, immediately struck memories in Mr. King’s mind. He says, “My wife and I went there eight times! It is so beautiful! My oh my! I remember walking these streets holding my wife’s hand.”
From one destination to the next, Mr. King went from Paris to an island swimming with dolphins. The adventures are endless!
𝐌𝐫. 𝐊𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐩 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐚𝐲, “𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐟𝐚𝐛𝐮𝐥𝐨𝐮𝐬! 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐮𝐬! 𝐈 𝐚𝐦 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐧𝐣𝐨𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐱𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰. 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐞.”
Immersing into a whole other realm, brought instant happiness for Mr. Tabatt. He knew he had to share this with the Veterans he serves. Now in the beginning implementation phase, the virtual reality has already made such an everlasting impact for the CLC Veterans.
When asked for a review of his first Virtual Reality experience, with excitement, Mr. King said, “What I have seen I want to see more of! This [Virtual Reality] is King approved!”
Although limitations are in place outside of the CLC, that does not mean limitations apply inside of the CLC. Bringing in the new tools, especially Virtual Reality, has brought a new meaning of home for the CLC residents.
Unlike many nursing homes in the past, the VA CLCs across the nation resemble home as much as possible. To learn more about the VA CLCs, visit the Geriatrics and Extended Care website.