War always takes a toll on the lives of the soldiers involved. That was especially true during the Vietnam War, when young men were drafted into combat, leaving their families behind and their lives on hold as they left to fight.

For many veterans, it left a few goals unfulfilled—but as one story proves, it’s never too late in life to pursue your lifelong dreams.

Floyd Covey, now 78, was drafted into the Vietnam as a young man—so young that he didn’t even get a chance to finish high school before heading overseas.

Covey fought in the Army during the war, even receiving the Purple Heart for his heroics. But after returning to civilian life, he never got around to finishing high school—a fact that he said always disappointed his mother.

Recently, Covey was at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center in West Virginia, and expressed this regret to a staff member—who encouraged him to go get his diploma, according to the medical center’s website.

And, with the help of West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance, that’s just what he did. While he’s about 60 years past the usual graduation age, it’s better late than never.

He was finally eligible for a diploma, and was invited by the Upshur County Board of Education to their high school graduation in May. Unfortunately, Covey couldn’t make it due to a medical concern.

But instead of letting his big day go uncelebrated, the VA center decided to hold him a graduation ceremony of their own.

The ceremony was attended by Covey’s brother, VAMC employees, and fellow veterans.

Dr. Sara Stankus and Dr. Deb Harrison, the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Upshur County Schools, showed up at the ceremony to hand Covey his long-awaited diploma.

“During a time in his life while others were graduating he was unable to,” said Stankus, according to the Martinsburg VA. “It is our honor to award his well-deserved diploma.”

Tyray Goerke, a Nutrition and Food Service worker, made Covey a cake to mark the occasion.

Martinsburg VA Medical Center Public Affairs Office
For Covey, it all came back to the woman who inspired it all: “This would mean everything to my Mom,” he told the crowd.

It just goes to show that you can pursue your dreams at any age—and the small acts that can make a big difference.

“This day really proves that no act is too small to help make a difference in our Veterans’ lives,” said Medical Center Director Timothy J. Cooke. “I am glad we were all able to come together to make this day special for Mr. Covey.”

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