A commitment made by Southwestern Medical Center (SWMC) to the community’s veterans was recognized Tuesday as it becomes the first in Oklahoma and only civilian hospital in the nation named a Purple Heart Hospital.
During a ceremony in the hospital’s banquet room, hospital CEO Adam Bracks commended the opportunity found in the commitment to remember and recognize the service and sacrifice of the men and women in the community who have, and are, selflessly serving their country and community.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to use this platform to highlight the Purple Heart values,” he said.
With the proclamation, Bracks said the hospital’s goal is to honor and express gratitude to those in our community who were either wounded or killed in combat defending the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans.
Christy Clark, director of growth and outreach for SWMC, welcomed all in attendance for the event.
“We are extremely honored by hosting this event,” she said. “We have literally raised the roof here for today.”
Clark introduced retired Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Bruce Dwyer from the Mount Scott Chapter 602 the Military Order of the Purple Heart to speak and relate the history of this high honor bestowed among the best and bravest in the military who have shed blood in the name of freedom. Since its creation Aug. 7, 1782, he noted that each year that date is recognized as National and State Purple Heart Day. Between 1.8 million to 2 million have been awarded the medal.
“General (George) Washington believed strongly the enlisted soldier needed to be recognized,” he said.
Dwyer spoke of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and its role protecting veteran interests since its foundation in 1932.
“We beg people for money and do good deeds, short version,” he said to clustered laughs from the audience. “We give a lot of money to the veterans.”
One of the programs Dwyer said he is most proud is the Reboot Program. Its mission is to prevent veteran suicides. He spoke of how, through networking and partnering with veteran service organizations, mental health programs and advocacy groups, they are carrying on their “soldier’s duty.”
“I can say, today, no soldier has committed suicide who’s gone through it,” he said.
For retired Master Sgt. Matthew Sims who received three Purple Hearts during one combat tour to earn entry into the Military Order of the Purple Heart, he said SWMC’s commitment to the Lawton-Fort Sill veterans’ community is part of what makes this place something special.
“I want to thank the Southwestern team for jumping all over this,” he said. “I’ve never seen a community support our military personnel like this.”
Sims noted the uniqueness of SWMC being the first civilian hospital to earn the Purple Heart Hospital designation, the other two honored as such are VA hospitals in San Antonio, Texas. It’s a manner of giving back to those who have given so much.
“This is a tribute to the sacrifice and valor … to give themselves for something larger than themselves,” he said. “We remember the brave men and women who spilled their blood on distant battlefields. Your sacrifice is not in vain.”