LIMA — In his nearly 10 years of volunteering at Lima Memorial Health System, Ken Lucas has made a point to thank and talk to veterans he’s met along the way.
On Wednesday, he was the one getting the recognition and thanks.
“I think this is great,” said Lucas, who served as a firefighter with the U.S Air Force for more than 30 years. “We all appreciate a little recognition. I thought it was a pretty nice thing for the hospital to do."
The hospital invited staff and volunteers who have served in the military to attend a short ceremony outside Wednesday. More than 35 responded, although not all were able to attend. Each received a pin and greetings from members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1275 as well as Lima Memorial President and CEO Mike Swick.
“Veterans are an important part of us, and the volunteers especially, a lot of them have served in a number of wars,” Swick said. “I think that is what brings them back to volunteerism, they give of their time.”
Wednesday’s recognition event marked the one-year anniversary of a program designed to honor veterans coming to the hospital. Someone visits each veteran and presents each with a flag and magnet to take home. Over 125 have been recognized by the program started by Diana Coppler, manager of palliative care.
“It is important to take a moment to recognize our co-workers and volunteers who’ve fought for our country,” she said.
Swick said the hospital will continue to do the program and look for ways to recognize veterans for “what they have done for us.” He said the response from patients has been great.
“A lot of them get very emotional,” he said. “We get a lot of positive and emotional feedback as far as people saying, ‘I have never been thanked like this.’”
Lucas, a retired Lima firefighter, said he volunteers simply because he likes it.
“Besides serving in the military, you are giving something back to the community,” he said. “We all enjoy doing it. We get to talk to people, maybe joke with them a bit. You might make their day a little better, you can always hope.”
Allen East High School student Amanda Lotz sang the “National Anthem” during the program.
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