Detroit Chapter #9 of the Vietnam Veterans of America has stepped in to help a Detroit medical facility battle the COVID-19 crisis by providing hundreds of masks for hospital staff.

We have delivered 300 masks to the John Dingell Veterans Administration Medical Center, 4646 John R in Detroit, last week. The chapter has already underwritten the cost of another 500 masks and those were delivered to the medical facility on April 21.

“It is through the efforts of community partners…that allow us to continue the quality care and services that we need to provide our deserving veterans,” said William Browning, the chief of volunteer and community relations for VAMedical Center.

The masks are being made out of ALJ Tailoring in Novi by Vietnam veteran Greg Hansen and his wife, Hang. One version is a surgical mask with a filter and the other is a fabric or Olson mask, he explained. A seamstress, Hang produces approximately three masks an hour.

“She’s used to patterns,” Hansen said.“She cuts the patterns at night,then during the daytime she starts putting the masks together and does stitching. After we separate them, we iron them and put them in a sanitary bag.”

The chapter reimburses the Hansens for the cost of the materials.

“It’s been well received by the staff at the hospital,” said George Adams, who delivered the first batch of masks last week. “We just decided it was a good idea to focus on veterans.”

Members also placed a thank-you sign to first responders at the hospital’s entrance.

Michigan has more than 200,000 Vietnam-era veterans, according to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics and the U.S. Census, making it the largest veterans group in Michigan.