Recognizing military service is very important to those at Hamilton Hospice.
At the recommendation of Mark Elam, MD, medical director,Hamilton Hospice has been recognizing veterans with the Veteran’s Recognition Award since 2010.
“I think it is the most important thing we’ve added to the program,” said Elam. “For veterans to receive recognition, it means everything, especially for Vietnam veterans.”
Elam is a veteran, serving as a physician with the United States Army and completing his service as a major. He practiced medicine at Madigan Army Medical Hospital just outside Lakewood, Wash., the Eisenhower Army Medical Center near Augusta, Ga., and the 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany (serving when the Berlin Wall came down). Elam’s father and uncles served in the Navy and Army during World War II.
Others at Hamilton Hospice have either served or have strong ties to service members. Neal Brannen, RN, case manager, served in the U.S. Navy as a 1st class petty officer and sonar technician. Often, Brannen presents the award to hospice patients. “It is a very emotional moment to watch a veteran from one generation paying tribute to a veteran from another,” said Ann Larkin Huff, social worker.
Susie Compton,Hamilton Hospice director, has a son who is serving in the U.S. Navy as a missile technician. Her father also served as a missile technician in the Navy during World War II.
Recently, Hamilton Hospice recognized James “Bobby” Underwood. He was a specialist in the U.S. Army in Europe during the late 1960s at the height of the Cold War era.
“We appreciate the service Mr. Underwood gave to our country,” said Huff. “For our hospice patients who are veterans, the recognition reminds them that their sacrifice has been appreciated and gives closure. We feel that it is a privilege and an honor to do this for veterans as they have given their all for us.”
Veterans are recognized and supported at various times during the year as well. Social workers work with Veterans Affairs in getting benefits for patients who are veterans. On Veterans Day, thank-you cards and flags are handed out. And at Hamilton Hospice memorial services, held each spring and fall, veterans are recognized through a display including a veterans’ wreath and candle. A poem is read during the service as well.
“We want to honor our patients who are veterans in a special way,” said Compton. “They’ve given a lot so we can enjoy the freedoms we have.”