Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital
Veteran celebrates special birthday at Hines
Just one day shy of his 90th birthday, William “Bill” Erzig came to Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital to receive his second COVID-19 vaccination shot on March 20.
Erzig, an Army Veteran who served during the Korean War, has been coming to Hines off and on for years. He took advantage of VA’s COVID-19 vaccination program to get in sooner than he would have at his residential living facility.
“Eventually I was going to get it in the building I live in,” Erzig said, “But my son helped me. He called me up and made different arrangements for me to come.” He adds, with a wink, “It’s good to have kids once in a while.”
An active member in his community, Erzig was among the first Korean War Veterans to participate in the Honor Flight program. It was an impactful experience.
“We had a special flight,” Erzig said. “We had the [then] Chief of Staff of the Army General ‘Millie’ Mills [now Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff]. So that was kind of a big deal. Real nice guy. You wouldn’t think a General would be that way. We had a lot of talks. He seems to be a fellow that you can talk to. We had a good time. Nice flight.
The Korean War Memorial was fantastic. Especially when you got close. Some of the features on the faces of these statues that they had. It’s just fantastic. You’d swear to God that you knew them when you were in Korea. So they did a great job on the memorial.”
For Veterans like Erzig, the pandemic has been challenging. Restrictions on visitors and activities have been hard and friends have been lost. Now that he has received his vaccine, though, the thing he is most excited about is to get outside. He also has some advice for Veterans who may be still deciding whether to get vaccinated.
“You’re silly and not using your head if you don’t get your shot,” Erzig commented. “It’s here for you and it’s going to help you. It’s not going to harm you. Eventually you’ll thank each and every one of them.”
And, as he notes, it is much better than getting vaccinated in the Army.
“You know when we went overseas, we got four shots. They said, ‘it’s not going to hurt.’ He wasn’t the guy getting the shot! So, some of those shots they gave you they kind of got to your arm and everything. These are very mild. You know, in the service they thought you were a pin cushion. They threw them at you!
Some of these people here (at Hines) that work are very, very dedicated. If they know you’re not settled down or quiet, they’ll stay with you for a while until you get your shot, which is great. You don’t get that at a private hospital. You get a shot there and they say ‘roll up your sleeve! Here’s your shot!’ This isn’t like that. They’re here for you. I’m not going to say serve to you but they’re here to help you and that’s just what they do.”
The Hines community thanks Erzig for his service and wishes him a wonderful, safe and happy 90th birthday!