Hospital finds ways to honor veterans

dfwnewsa | November 14, 2022 | 0 | Midlothian , Waxahachie News

Patty Hullett, Daily Light contributor

Jason Wilson, cardiopulmonary manager at Baylor Scott & White (BSW) in Waxahachie heads up the Respiratory Therapy Department of the local hustling and bustling hospital.

However, his leadership also extends to taking care of their veterans programs. He tries to make sure that the staff, employees and volunteers of BSW enhance the stay of retired American veterans with as much respect and honor that they can muster. It is their way of giving back and paying tribute to those soldiers – past and present – who have devoted themselves in service for their country, often putting their very lives on the line.

Without them, we would not have the freedom and security we cherish every day. The United States’ greatness was, and still is, built on the foundation of their courage and sacrifice.

COVID-19 hit their successful VET programs in a major way during the past couple of years, but they are rebounding to get everything going again in a positive direction. The original idea to honor veterans in special ways is the brain child of the Emeritus (and still active) volunteer member of the BSW hospital Don Goodenough. He and his wife Sandy are still very much involved in the veteran and volunteer programs. A veteran himself, he served in the Army from 1966 through 1972 in the Vietnam War.

Goodenough said, “I am very passionate about honoring veterans, especially since I know exactly what most of these men and women endured during the very political Vietnam conflict in Southeast Asia. The soldiers that were lucky enough to come back home alive, certainly didn’t get the respect they were due. Instead of a hero’s kind of welcome, there were no parades, no fireworks, no celebrations. In fact, many while still serving in the military were told, ‘Do not wear your uniforms when you go in town.’”

“I am happy that we now have a ‘Visit a Vet’ program in this hospital,” Goodenough said. “I came up with that incentive to tell these important men and women that we do care.”

He receives a BSW report every day, letting him know how many veterans are patients in their facility. This immediately triggers recognition of their presence in the hospital.

American Veteran Magnet Programs

The first of the hospital programs involve the veteran patients being recognized by a volunteer placing an American Vet magnet outside the door of their room. This special magnet alerts hospital staff members and volunteers to feel free to enter the vet’s room (whenever possible). This gives the hospital visitor a chance to make direct contact with the former military person, and it’s up to them to just sit and talk to them or to provide a listening ear as they converse with the honored patient. Or perhaps they simply offer up a “thank you” to them for their valuable service to our country.

Wilson said, “In working with this important program, many times I’ve heard positive feedback from some of the veteran patients that claim they have never once received a hand shake or a ‘thank you’ from anyone for their military service, and this is especially common from Vietnam vets. Many are teary-eyed when they talk to me about their experience they enjoyed while in the hospital here at Baylor Scott & White. It’s a shame that so many from the Vietnam Era never received the kind of respect and honor that they were due from their contribution to the very controversial war in the late ‘60s and the early ‘70s.”

The Honor Walk

The next program is one that the hospital takes great pride in. As one can understand, they are just getting ready to restart this worthy practice, as COVID had basically shut everything down.

For The Honor Walk, if any veteran passes away during their stay at Baylor Scott & White – Waxahachie, those in charge perform a special “Honor Walk” to memorialize the person and to extend their deepest sympathies to the family left behind. Many hospital workers who had become associated with the patient and a vast number of volunteers literally line the hallways as an honor guard passes through to esteem the fallen veteran. A challenge commemorative coin is also presented to the family at the end of the walk.

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Leaders serve veteran team members, volunteers and visitors in the hospital café on Veterans Day. (Courtesy of Baylor Scott & White)

Mary Crowell was recently awarded the 2022 “Volunteer of the Year” award.

She said, “It is so heartwarming when we volunteers get to visit with veterans in our hospital. It seems that each one genuinely appreciates the time we spend talking to them, and oftentimes we hand them a card thanking them for their service. Sometimes the smiles on their faces, and often their tears, say it all. We workers love the interaction between us volunteers and the veterans who have so valiantly served our nation during war times and also during peaceful eras.”

She said, “I absolutely love being a part of the Honor Walk ceremony, when we all line the halls for the deceased veteran. It always brings us to tears because this special service is so beautiful.”

Veterans Day

The hospital also enjoys celebrating any veteran hospital workers, auxiliary members and volunteers (past or present) by providing them with a Veteran’s Day Breakfast each year to let them know that they are loved and cared about.

On a chilly and cold morning last Friday many gathered to give honor and recognition to those brave men and women who sacrificed for our freedoms that we so often take for granted.

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Orise Kopnak, 102 years old, is a volunteer who served in the Army Women’s Corp. (Courtesy photo)

There was a good group of veterans who participated in the breakfast and short program. One special lady, the oldest of the attendees on Friday, was 102-year old Orise Kopnak. As spry as always she was excited to be there. She and her late husband met and served in the Army during World War II together. She is a very proud veteran and mentor.

Goodenough shares as a veteran, “Our country called us to duty, and we went. And I think I can speak for most veterans when I say, ‘It was an honor and privilege to serve.’”

All three of these programs are handled with the highest level of respect and dignity, and the hospital is proud to do their part in making sure these vets are well taken care of during their watch.

The post Hospital finds ways to honor veterans appeared first on Waxahachie Daily Light.

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