Friday, November 15, 2013

Giving thanks to veterans


HONOR AND PRIDE: Orf, with his son, Nicholas, 11

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marks the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918 and is celebrated each year to honor war veterans. To pay tribute, the MGH hosted the annual Veterans Day Appreciation Breakfast under the Bulfinch Tents.

“It’s good to know that people care and celebrate this holiday,” said Walter Reeves, medical photographer in the MGH Photo Lab, who served six years in the army. “After 9/11 and events like the Boston Marathon bombing, people seem to have a sense of what it’s like because it’s closer to home.”

Many MGH veterans and their families attended the event. Speakers included Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president; Jeff Davis, senior vice president of Human Resources; John Polk, DMin, BCC, director of the MGH Chaplaincy; and retired Brig. Gen. Jack Hammond, executive director of the Red Sox Foundation and MGH Home Base Program, which helps Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families heal from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury through clinical care.

“I want to thank the veterans for your service and the sacrifices your families have made,” said Hammond. “With so many troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, it is a busy time at Home Base, but we have treatments that work and a wonderful team of clinicians and veterans who are here to help.”

The breakfast concluded with keynote speaker, Harry Orf, PhD, senior vice president for Research. Orf served more than 30 years in a medical brigade in the U.S. Army Reserves, including a year deployment in Iraq.

“As I reflect back on our tour, it’s difficult to rationalize the dichotomy of battlefield brutalities with the compassionate treatment we give to the injured,” said Orf. “The public often sees the tragedies of war and the harm we inflict. But they also need to know that help and compassion are fundamental tenets of our military policy. Our hospitals treat anyone – soldier, ally, enemy or civilian – who makes it to our door, and we prioritize treatment by severity of injury, not by
whose side they’re on.”

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