A Call to Service – “because that’s what we do.”

History was made yesterday at Valley Medical Center.

In a moving ceremony, our new flagpoles were commissioned and the colors flown, thanks to our own VMC Color Guard, Veteran Marines all, from VMC’s Protective Services Department. No ceremony like it had ever taken place before. The need was a result of Measure A’s passing in 2008, requiring the installation of new flagpoles (the old ones are where the new hospital will go).

Also, for the very first time, the POW/MIA flag now joins the California Flag and the Stars and Stripes. Colonel Dean Winslow, M.D., who actively serves in the Air Force while also as Medical Director of VMC’s PACE Clinic, thanked the administrators of YOUR public medical center for the opportunity to do both. His tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan are only part of his riviting personal story.

(Photos are here, courtesy of Flickr and VMC’s Luis Gonzalez)

Perhaps the most moving speech of the day was delivered by retired Colonel William Peacock. I’m proud to call Bill a friend, and his service to our nation goes back to his time in the White House under Carter and Reagan, and before that, Viet Nam. Bill is also a member of the Soverign Order of St. John, which has built hospitals around the world for over a thousand years.

Below is a transcript of his speech, which perfectly brought home the idea of service – both in the military and the medical field. PLEASE READ AND SHARE with others…this one deserves to be spread around:

To all veterans and Colonel Winslow, MD: I honor you for your noble service in our nation’s latest wars, and in many ways I wish I could join you. It is probably best, however, that I do not join in this expedition because we all know that we old veterans are pretty cranky and doggone impatient, and in this new and different kind of battle, as it is coming to be well known, patience is more a virtue in this new kind of war than it may have been in our earlier and seemingly simpler military conflicts.

In this connection, just the other day, an email came over the net that showed a photograph of an Army medic, the same caliber youngster as a Navy corpsman. Please note my pronunciation of “corpsman,” for those who follow the news. [laughter, especially from the vets in the crowd].

The medic was carrying on his back a badly wounded Iraqi soldier through the middle of a vicious firefight. A member of the European press yelled out in a jeering and derisive manner to the U.S. Army medic as he ran with this heavy and bleeding body in the “fireman’s carry” to the nearest combat medical facility. The foreign cameraman yelled out, “Why are you risking your life for him? He’s only an Iraqi.”

The American soldier replied through gritted teeth, “Because that’s what we do.”

A great phrase, “That’s what we do!” Think about it: it applies with near-perfect congruence to what every man and woman here at Valley Medical Center does every hour of every day, 24/7, 365. That is what you do—you take care of them all—the sick, the wounded, the needy, the disenfranchised, the poor. Just like our nation’s Army medics and the Navy corpsman. You take them all: That’s what you do.

So it is all too fitting that proud members of your military, past and present, are here, standing tall to honor you, the women and men of Valley Medical Center, as you dedicate and commission your new flagpole: a flagpole that flies at its apogee the stars and stripes, a symbol of freedom known everywhere on this troubled planet.

So too it is fitting that Captain Schork, his Honor Guard of Marines, Colonel Dean Winslow, MD of the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps, and I, a Vietnam era Marine, salute you: because you, the people of VMC, here safe in Silicon Valley, are a very close analogy to our front-line combat troops. Why? Because like the troops, you could exercise your freedom of choice and do something else all day or all night, but you choose to care for them all. Therefore, you may have other slogans, but I suggest that underlying it all is the crystal clear ringing phrase: “That is what we do.”

For your service to others, may God bless and thank you.

Col. Bill Peacock, retired Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs)

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