First Lady’s Blog, May 2020: Zena Jones, LaVetCorps

First Lady’s Blog, May 2020: Zena Jones, LaVetCorps

At the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, we serve 281,000 Louisiana veterans. Last year, through a partnership with AmeriCorps, we launched the LaVetCorps program, one of only two in the United States. Our LaVetCorps staff, called Navigators, are stationed on 30 public and private college and university campuses and are dedicated to serving more than 8,000 of Louisiana’s student veterans and their families. The Navigators have a heart for service, many of them being military veterans, or in some way military connected, so they understand the challenges that veterans face when they are transitioning from military to civilian life. Their commitment to serving student veterans is evident in all of the things they do, both large and small, especially given the current pandemic.

When college campuses closed due to COVID-19, our LaVetCorps Navigators were not required to remain in service. It was at that time that they sprang into action volunteering at their local food banks, delivering meals and making masks. University of Louisiana at Lafayette Navigator Zena Jones is among this group.

Zena immediately decided that she wanted to make and donate cloth masks. In total, she made 146 masks and donated them to people she knew as well as to Hospice of Acadiana and Quality Care Providers of Louisiana. In addition to making masks, Zena has volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank.

“Zena chose to stay and continue her service, and she is an exemplary example of LaVetCorps Navigator spirit,” said LaVetCorps Director Dr. Nikki Bray Clark. “She is deeply connected to her local community and has shown great caring and a willingness to go above and beyond in her role as a Navigator.”

Zena received letters of thanks from both Hospice of Acadiana and Quality Care Providers of Louisiana for her generous donations and spirit of volunteerism. The masks will be used on the frontline in helping patients and families stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about the LaVetCorps program, visit

View the feature on the First Lady’s blog at

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