As we mark Veterans Day, I am reminded of the many veterans who served our country in war and peace and now serve as care team members at Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital.
This doesn’t surprise me. The call to service – to do work that benefits other people and the community at large – is the hallmark of the life our veterans lived during their time in the military. It makes sense that they would answer the call in civilian life, too.
The pandemic has highlighted this calling more than ever. Take, for example, Hannah Parenteau, RN, BSN, who normally works as a nurse in the Stockton Springs Regional Health Center. Earlier this year she volunteered at some risk to herself at the Tall Pines long-term care facility in Belfast when it was struggling with a COVID-19 outbreak. This meant she would have to isolate from her husband and children and serve a 14-day quarantine before returning to work at WCGH. When asked why she was willing to make these sacrifices, Hannah’s response exemplified the spirit of both our veterans and our care team members.
“When I joined the National Guard, I raised my hand and pledged to defend my country,” Hannah says. “As a nurse, I’m just as committed to defending my community. It’s what all of us signed up for and it’s what makes being a part of WCGH so rewarding.”
For our veterans, our nation was important enough to endure long separations from their families, miss the births of their children and, at times, suffer the horrors of war. Their spouses endured career interruptions, changes of address and a disproportionate share of parental responsibilities. Their children too frequently changed schools and moved away from friends. They made these sacrifices to benefit a nation. And we are grateful.
We are fortunate to count so many veterans among our ranks. For me, their daily example of service is a reminder of why we all entered health care in the first place. Please join me in thanking them for their service to our nation and for their ongoing commitment to our community.
Mark Fourre, MD, is president of Pen Bay Medical Center | Waldo County General Hospital