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Arkansas VA nurse, team fights COVID-19 for those who fought for our country

Allison was working in the VA's eye clinic, when the coronavirus hit. Because of her background in critical care, she was picked for the COVID ICU team.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Each month we recognize the people and organizations who serve those who have served our country. Today, meet a nurse at the VA on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You may remember the scene, the first COVID-19 patient at Little Rock's VA Hospital, healthy and heading home. A scene only possible because of people like Melissa Allison. 

"Coming to the VA," she said, "and immersing myself into the military culture made me feel closer to my family."

Allison is an Advanced Practice Nurse, who fits right in at the VA. 

"My family has a very strong military history," she explained. A long line, going back generations and a line that continues. "And currently," she said, "you're going to make me tear up, my um, our youngest son is currently serving in the Navy."

She was working in the VA's eye clinic, when the coronavirus hit. Because of her background in critical care, she was picked for the COVID ICU team.

Teamed with five other nurses, she would spend a month learning all about the virus, the treatments and medications. But first she had to have a conversation with her family. Two of whom were high risk. 

"I contacted them, and said I love you. But you cannot come to my house until further notice," she remembered. "It was hard."

Over the past few months, the VA has cared for nearly 60 veterans with COVID-19, and while not all of them were able to recover, Allison and her team will never stop fighting for those who fought for us.

"A man who was at Pearl Harbor and a man who stormed the beaches of Normandy, outside my door," she said of her surroundings. "It's just amazing to watch the history books walk up and down the hall." 

"And you're serving them now, you're protecting them," said Rob Evans. "We try," she said through tears.

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