It is a proud privilege to be a soldier – a good soldier with discipline, self-respect, pride in his unit and his country.
– George S. Patton, Jr., General, United States Army, WWII
Naval veteran Bob C thoroughly enjoyed visiting veterans at St. Mary. Although his opening “lines” were usually the same, introducing himself as a naval vet and informing the patient of his purpose to express the hospital’s appreciation for the patient’s service, he received many unique responses.
Bob told us of some of his visits. “Some guys said, ‘Thanks. Nice blanket.’ He found that these blankets frequently took on the significance of the American flag for some recipients. One vet Bob visited was deeply touched.
“This big guy, a Vietnam vet, was lying in the bed. He sobbed as I told him I was there to express our appreciation and present him with this blanket. As he clutched the blanket tightly in his arms, he eventually calmed enough to say, ‘Nobody ever gave me anything for serving over there or ever thanked me.’ Considering how poorly we received our returning Vietnam soldiers, it will be a success if this program can help heal some of those deep wounds.”
Most of these patients had served in World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, or the Gulf War. But sometimes, the guys didn’t feel they deserved the blanket because they hadn’t served during wartime. Bob always assured them if they had signed up and served, wartime or not, they were still vets and were entitled to receive a blanket and St. Mary’s gratitude.