Friday, November 16, 2012

Honoring those who served

SALUTING VETERANS: From left, Wasserman, DeFelice and his daughter, Susan. Wasserman, also a veteran, helped bring DeFelice down to enjoy the appreciation breakfast.

The crowd beneath the Bulfinch Tent bowed their heads for a moment of silence to pay respect to the current and retired members of the military among them and to pay tribute to soldiers who died serving their country. The annual MGH Veterans Day Appreciation Breakfast on Nov. 12 was the start of a day full of activities to honor veterans and their families, including the many MGHers who have served or are currently serving.

“From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, World War I and II to Vietnam – and now our nation’s longest wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – the hospital has been at the center of clinical care, education and research to improve medical care for wounded veterans through science and innovation,” said David F. Torchiana, MD, chairman and CEO of the MGPO.

Lt. Col. David King, MD, a trauma and acute care surgeon at the MGH, was the guest speaker. A member of the U.S. Army Reserves for the past 12 years, King served as a trauma surgeon in both Iraq and Afghanistan for the 7th and 10th Special Forces Group respectively. King discussed what he calls the “war dividend” – how trauma care has improved within the civilian medical community as a result of war. “We are using the valuable lessons that we learned while at war for those who come to us now for help and healing,” King said. “We are able to pay it forward with the wisdom and knowledge we gained on the battlefield.”

The appreciation breakfast was particularly special for retired Marine Corps Capt. Eugene DeFelice, a patient on Ellison 8, who for the past 30 years has not missed the Veterans Day ceremony near his home on Martha’s Vineyard. The World War II and Korean War veteran said he was honored to attend the reception – thanks to the help of MGH physician’s assistant and fellow veteran Stan Wasserman, PA, who escorted him. “I thought it was very good,” said DeFelice, who wore his Marine Corps uniform to the event. “I was very happy – couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The 2012 Veterans Day events were presented by the Red Sox Foundation and MGH Home Base Program in collaboration with Human Resources, the Chaplaincy, the Employee Assistance Program, the MGPO, Police and Security, and Patient Care Services. The day also included a lecture, panel discussion and prayer service.

“Veterans Day is a time to recommit ourselves to our veterans and their families,” said retired Brig. Gen. Jack Hammond, executive director of the Home Base Program. “It’s a time to sit back and say we can do more as a country. We can do more as individuals. Most important, it’s our job not to forget our veterans and their families and the sacrifices they have made.” 

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