Event kicks off Central Valley Veterans Day ceremonies honoring military men and women: A Press Release from Kaweah Delta
VISALIA – Hundreds of people packed Kaweah Delta’s first-ever Veterans Day Tribute on Friday, Nov. 8, as California State Senator Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield and State Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, honored more than 80 veterans including doctors, nurses, and other staff members who care for people living in the Central Valley.
“Wow,” said Grove, a featured speaker at the event as she looked out at attendees. “I attend a lot of veterans ceremonies and I can just tell you right now if this is your first event and it’s this well done and this recognizing of all of the people who have served in this community, I can’t wait until next year. There’s 750 years of combined service of individuals who have put their hand in the air to swear to defend the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, who work right here in this hospital.”
The event kicked off with those in attendance standing to honor veterans as they were led into the building by the Redwood High School Drum Corps. After being seated, veterans watched the presentation of colors by the Naval Health Clinic Lemoore Color Guard and listened to music by Kaweah Delta employees Tina Lockwood and Fernando Pineda and the College of the Sequoias Choir. California State Senator Grove was joined as a featured speaker by Dr. John Hipskind, Vice President of Kaweah Delta’s Board of Directors, a Lieutenant Commander and Flight Surgeon, in the U.S. Navy Reserve. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Honor Guard was also in attendance.
“There’s actually 18 million of us that are out there that have served and it’s quite a testament to our country that we have such a volunteer spirit,” Dr. Hipskind said.
At the end of the program, State Assemblyman Devon Mathis gave pins and certificates to veterans for their service.
Those honored were appreciative of the show of community support and many were moved to tears during the ceremony. Lori Mulliniks, finance manager, who has worked at Kaweah Delta for 16 years, was among them. She joined the U.S. Marine Corps at 17 for a better opportunity after high school and it served her well, she said. “I thought the event today was spectacular and I want to thank everybody who created it and participated in it. It was very moving. What a blessing.”
Richard Merrills, a Registered Nurse, who works on 3 South Oncology at Kaweah Delta agreed. Merrills, who served in both the Army and the Air Force, went into the U.S. Army on the GI Bill, which allowed him to become an RN. He then joined the Air Force, was commissioned as an officer and served as a medivac. “I thought this program today was very well put together and I want to thank those who did it.”
Bill Beebe, a Security Officer Lead, who has worked at Kaweah Delta for six years, said he enjoyed having local dignitaries join the festivities. Beebe served in the U.S. Navy from 2004-09 because after 911 he wanted to serve his country. “I liked the event it was pretty amazing and it felt really good to get some recognition.”
Beebe’s co-worker Nathon Bryant, a security officer at Kaweah Delta, agreed. Bryant served in the Army for eight years simply because he loves his country. “The event was great. One of the special things, I really thought, was that our local politicians, our senator and our assemblyman, showed up. That made it really extra special and they took the time to talk to us afterward.”
Jill Anderson, Kaweah Delta’s Director of Revenue Integrity, who served eight years in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman and was part of the committee who organized the event, said it was touching to see how many showed up to support veterans.
“American veterans should be honored for helping our country as we have so many rights and freedoms due to their service,” said Anderson “Whether in times of peace or war, veterans and their families devote their lives to the service of our country.”
Kaweah Delta is a publicly-owned community healthcare organization that provides comprehensive health services to the greater Visalia region and Tulare County. With over 5,000 dedicated medical professionals and employees, Kaweah Delta is committed to meeting the community’s health needs through state-of-the-art medicine, high-quality preventive services and specialized health centers and clinics. For more information, visit www.kaweahdelta.org.