Valley Hospital’s special thank-you to veterans
Valley Hospital’s special thank-you to veterans

As a U.S. Navy veteran and the son of a veteran, Valley Hospital Nurse Manager Paul Kazel understands that receiving an American flag in recognition of guarding and protecting the United States is a special honor. “[At my father’s funeral], I felt a great sense of pride that my father was recognized with the symbol of what he fought for, and it hangs in my house to this day,” said Kazel.

“No one can truly know what it is that our veterans have gone through without walking a mile in their shoes, seeing what they saw, and doing what they had to do, to protect those they loved and those  they had never met,” he said. “As a civilian, my thoughts turned to how we could thank our veterans who protected our country and way of life. In their final hours, our veterans are honored by our hospital staff for their service and their sacrifices. And, when our veterans are also organ donors, they demonstrate their continued selflessness and desire to help others live and spend precious time with their loved ones.”

The Final Honor Call to Duty
Thus was born the Final Honor Call to Duty. Simple, elegant and respectful, a small star flag is placed over the veteran with the canton lying over the left shoulder, before the family comes to the bedside to say their goodbyes. This smaller flag is used at the hospital because a veteran is allotted only one large star flag, which is given to the family at the time of the funeral, per the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. After loved ones leave the bedside, the flag is removed, folded according to specifications, placed in a display box and presented to the family with a letter thanking them for their loved one’s service to the country, along with the care team’s condolences.

For veterans who are also organ donors, the flag remains in place while they are wheeled to the operating room with hospital personnel lining the hallways to show their thanks and respect for the organ donor.

Claude Wise III, CEO of Valley Hospital and son of a U.S. Army veteran, is gratified to offer this thanks to patients. “I’m very proud of my dad’s service,” he said. “Our southern Nevada community is home to many active duty personnel and veterans, and it’s a privilege to care for them. We understand that our armed forces are more than the men or women who served. They’re also their families who served with them.”

Heartfelt Support From a Fellow Veteran
The Final Honor Call to Duty received its first five flags and shadow boxes with the assistance of William “Bill” Dolan of Pahrump, Nevada, a U.S. Army veteran and Disabled American Veteran (DAV) advocate. “We believe in one another, we put our lives in each other’s hands,” Dolan said. “There is an unwritten pledge that ‘No one is left behind on the field of battle.’ The flag presentation is a final tribute to our brother or sister as they leave the field of battle. I have made it my duty to help my fellow brothers and sisters through whatever it is they are going through.”

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Photo: Courtesy of Valley Hospital, Final Honor Call to Duty

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