Honoring those who served on Veterans Day is a longstanding tradition at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. With COVID-19 restrictions, the hospital couldn’t host its usual luncheon with guest speakers. It had to get creative.
The solution? A drive-by event on the hospital’s campus. The celebration accomplished its goal of recognizing veterans, according to hospital President Blake Kretz, FACHE.
“Texas Health Arlington Memorial has always supported our veterans,” Kretz said. “Our team did a great job of putting this special event together to show our respect for those who’ve done so much to serve our country.”
As veterans drove up to the event, they were asked their name and service branch. This information was announced as they received a boxed lunch, Veterans Day pin and card from Kretz and other hospital leaders. Scouts from Scouts BSA Troop 380 in Arlington served as an honor guard.
“Veterans deserve to be recognized for their selfless service and dedication, both in the military and continuing on in the community,” said David Thomas, security manager.
“We are put here to serve others,” Thomas said. He developed a “bug for serving others” during his time in the Marine Corps. “The selfless and contagious desire to serve that I saw in the Marines set the tone for my life.”
The veterans were enthusiastic about their service, proudly proclaiming their military branches from their cars. A hospital volunteer wore his green vest, announcing that he was ready to report for duty at the facility when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
“Some of these folks have been out of the military 40 years or more, but their pride in their service is still strong,” said facilities manager Fidel Ramirez, who helped plan the event. “If they were called back, most of them would probably go in a heartbeat. The spark is still there.”
Ramirez said that his leaders during his Marine Corps service taught him the value of building morale and esprit de corps among his employees. “My service was a life-changing experience,” he said.
Approximately 30 veterans were honored, with hospital staff members joining the drive-by participants.
Caregivers at Texas Health Arlington Memorial and other Texas Health facilities proudly support veterans upon their return from military service and partner with them for a lifetime of health and well-being.
In addition, Texas Health facilities honor those who’ve served with programs such as the Final Salute. With the family’s approval, the veteran’s flag-draped remains are escorted to the hospital lobby. Employees, medical staff physicians and family members observe a moment of silence and render a Final Salute before the veteran’s body is delivered to a waiting funeral home vehicle.
“We’re honored to serve those who’ve served,” Kretz said.