Thanking Veterans for Their Service

Vietnam War veteran Bill Robinson on stage speaking to audience.
Former POW Bill Robinson shares his story at the Covenant Health Homecare Hospice Veterans Appreciation Lunch

It was an opportunity to give back and say, “Thank you.”

Covenant Health Homecare Hospice recently hosted a luncheon to honor local veterans at Bridgewater Place in Knoxville. It’s the first event of its kind on behalf of Covenant Health’s We Honor Veterans program and the veterans it supports.

“One in four deaths in America is a veteran and only 33 percent of veterans are using Veterans Administration health care, which means they are coming to civilian hospice agencies,” says Cindy Winterberger, who coordinates We Honor Veterans for Covenant Health. “We want to work as a community to educate our staff to better care for veterans in our community.”

You Are Not Alone

Among those attending the event: veterans from World War II to those who have more recently served in the Middle East. Attendees were served lunch and heard inspiring words from Bill Robinson, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for seven years.

“Most importantly, we really want veterans to know that they are not alone, that they are appreciated, and that we are honored to care for them when they come to our health system,” Winterberger says.

The luncheon is the latest effort by Covenant Health to connect with veterans. Covenant Health Homecare Hospice identifies patients who are veterans (since 2016) and makes intentional efforts to give them recognition with a specially designed, branch-specific pin and certificate.

Following the success of the program, it is now implemented across Covenant Health to include 10 hospitals.

“No other civilian healthcare system in East Tennessee is asking these military questions,” Winterberger says. “Once we knew who the veterans were, we could educate our staff, and we could help connect veterans to benefits they may not have been aware of.”

The Joy of Giving Thanks

Winterberger says most veterans are surprised when a civilian hospital expresses interest in their service. They are also appreciative. Pinning ceremonies are often emotional moments and in some cases the first time a veteran has been formally welcomed home from war.

“We also work with the community, we visit local schools to ask children if they would like to write thank you letters, and we present those thank you letters to the veterans,” Winterberger says.

Thousands of pinning ceremonies have been conducted through Covenant Health, thanking veterans in the hospital setting or in their homes.

Covenant Health has also sponsored the Honor Air Flight since the program’s inception. The program provides thousands of local veterans the opportunity to fly to Washington DC at no cost to view memorials that have been built to remember those who served in foreign wars.

Want to Get Involved?

If you are a veteran (or family member of a veteran) and are interested in helping our hospice patients and their families, you can apply to be a volunteer by visiting Homecare and Hospice Volunteer Opportunities.

Tags for this post:

News & Articles

Covenant Health