Supporting Veterans and First Responders With the Valor Program
A family member and former firefighter discuss the merits of the Chapters Health Valor Program and how it can help veterans, first responders and their families face the challenges of a life-limiting illness.
There are many organizations in Florida supporting veterans and military families. Florida has the third-highest veteran population in the country behind California and Texas. However, Florida is also home to nearly 200,000 first responders. Those specially trained individuals include firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), police officers, sheriff’s deputies and other personnel who respond to the worst-case scenarios. They also deserve our support.
While our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines serve overseas, our first responders are keeping us safe here at home, in our own communities. Sometimes it is difficult for them to share their experiences with family and loved ones. In addition, it’s difficult for family members to express their grief when their loved one is lost in the line of duty. Such a loss can cause complicated grief disorder. According to Military Medicine, a journal published by the Oxford University Press, complicated grief is found in 53 to 59 percent of military families.
Helping their families navigate their grief is just one way the Chapters Health Valor Program is actively supporting veterans and first responders. The family of a World War II vet and a former firefighter share what they have learned about the Valor Program and how they see the organization helping.
Any military service, big or small, is worthy of recognition and respect. For Chief Master Sergeant David Bryant, his service carried a special significance. David is a patient with LifePath Hospice, a Chapters Health affiliate. He is among the first African Americans to reach the highest non-commissioned rank in the U.S. Air Force. He served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and the Korean War, eventually rising to the rank of Master Sergeant in Command and earning the respect of his many airmen. Moreover, David accomplished all of it in the heat of the civil rights movement. To see his full story, watch the video below.
One airman who greatly admires David is Lieutenant Col Odell Smith (ret.), a longtime friend who served under David.
“I joined the air force when I was 17 years old, straight out of high school,” said Smith. “People would ask me after I became an officer, ‘who did I emulate most?’ Who did I want to be like?’ I told them; a sergeant named David A. Bryant.”
David recently celebrated his 97th birthday with family, friends and members of his hospice care team. During the celebration, he said a few words to his guests.
“I appreciate you all being here,” said David. “I know all the people here are good people.”
David earned an honor pin, certificate and other commendations through the Valor Program for his service. To his daughter, Reanata Hickman, recognition for her father’s service reinforces her belief that you can “overcome anything and be all you can be.”
“It was awesome,” said Hickman. “It just makes me stronger.”
Supporting First Responders
For first responders, the desire and sense of duty to serve is just as strong. They keep us safe on the streets in our neighborhoods and sometimes in our homes. That service certainly takes a toll. A toll Tony Bossio saw first-hand when he served as a firefighter for six years in LeClaire, Iowa.
“I was a first lieutenant and fire prevention officer,” said Tony. “We ran about 400 to 500 calls per year. Many of the challenges for me were mental. You must be at your best on someone’s worst day. Every day you must be calm in the face of danger. Whether it’s the challenge of a vehicle accident or a house fire.”
Many people are kept safe by the quick actions of first responders. Unfortunately, however, they can’t save everyone and sometimes those are the calls first responders remember most. Afterwards, talking about those hard calls can be difficult. Sometimes it’s easier when someone shares a similar experience, an opportunity afforded by Valor Cafes. Valor Cafes are a peer-to-peer events where veterans and first responders can meet, enjoy good company and build new friendships.
“Being able to talk about your experiences with others who have the same history is very important. It helps you heal”
Tony’s desire to keep his community safe didn’t end after his firefighting career. He now works in sales and project management for International Fire Protection Inc., a leader in fire protection and life safety solutions, which sponsored this year’s Hospice Open Charity Golf Tournament, benefitting the Valor Program.
Supporting the Families
Sometimes, first responders and veterans make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe. For their families, an arduous journey of anger, sadness, grief and acceptance lies ahead. They don’t have to embark on it alone. Chapters Health is determined to join them, making free bereavement resources available.
“I have always said the most powerful part of the job is being able to hold someone’s hand when they just need a hand to hold,” said Tony. “I believe that goes both ways. We just need someone to listen or someone to care for us as we have cared for them. We all have a very important role to play with our time on earth. Can you imagine what it could be like if we all just tried a little harder, cared a little more?”
Essentially, that is what the Chapters Health Valor Program wants to accomplish. Ask yourself, do you think this country could care a little more about our veterans? What about our first responders? Clearly, the volunteers and leaders of the Chapters Health Valor Program have already decided.
To learn more about how the Valor Program is supporting veterans and first responders, call 855-533-0580 or email [email protected]
Chapters Health System is committed to serving the needs of its patients, families, caregivers, health providers, partners, and communities.
For more information, please call our helpful Chapters Health team at 1.866.204.8611 or Contact Us.