Retired U.S. Navy Captain Steve Gilmore has volunteered for Sharp HospiceCare's We Honor Veterans program since its inception in November 2014. The program is focused on improving care for veterans, as well as recognizing the important contributions they have made through their military service.
Captain Gilmore has had the honor of presiding over many of the program's pinning ceremonies, which pay tribute to military veterans who are receiving care through Sharp HospiceCare or Sharp HealthCare's Transitions Advanced Illness Management program.
Here's what he had to say about his passion for serving his fellow veterans.
Why did you choose to volunteer for the We Honor Veterans program with Sharp HospiceCare?
Along with my fellow veteran hospice volunteers, we thought that this would be a wonderful way to let those who have served the country in time of need know that we remember them and acknowledge their past service. I had been a hospice volunteer for about two years prior to being a We Honor Veterans volunteer. So when Sharp HospiceCare was looking to expand to include this specialized aspect of care, I was all in.
What does the We Honor Veterans program mean to you?
This program is such a meaningful outreach and tribute to two aspects of our society that are sometimes forgotten: the elderly and those who served in our armed forces. To have this opportunity to honor both simultaneously is wonderful.
I am always surprised at the humility of the men and women whom we recognize. Oftentimes, the family members are unaware of the past exploits and sometimes heroics of their loved ones until we encourage the military stories and experiences to flow out. Invariably, there is a combination of laughter, tears and openedmouth awe.
What does it feel like to participate in the We Honor Veterans pinning ceremonies?
It truly is an honor and such a moving experience to work with the Sharp HealthCare staff and the veteran's family members to organize the ceremony. I am also honored to help pen the words shared during the ceremony to recognize the member's branch of service, rank or rate, duty stations and locations served.
During the ceremony, as we talk about their service, present a flag to them that was flown over the USS Midway, read the words on the certificate, and provide the We Honor Veterans' pin, I recognize in the veteran's eyes and demeanor that they are truly touched.
Even though it may have been a long time since they served, we still remember and appreciate them. Presenting an American flag pin to each of the family members in attendance to wear on behalf of their veteran is also equally moving and appreciated.
What words of encouragement would you give to fellow veterans who may be interested in volunteering with the program?
The Sharp HospiceCare We Honor Veterans program is one of the finest ways to continue your service to the country by recognizing those who have blazed a trail before us. It truly is one of those programs where you get more than you give.
One of the most memorable salutes you will ever receive is the one from the veteran at a We Honor Veterans ceremony's end as they say, "Thank you!"
In this video, Captain Gilmore and a recent We Honor Veterans honoree reflect on their experiences.