Atrium hosts event honoring veterans

Published 3:33 pm Saturday, November 11, 2023

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Atrium Health’s annual Veterans Day Brunch attracted approximately 100 current and past service members to the facility’s Family & Education Center on Friday morning.
Facility Executive Brian Freeman welcomed the veterans in attendance.

“Here at Atrium, this is one of our favorite events each year,” Freeman said, expressing appreciation to the veterans service organizations and community partners that cooperate in facilitating the event.

He also encouraged those attending to invite fellow veterans to future gatherings.

“If you know other veterans in the community and you don’t see them here today, please remind them that next year we’ll be here again and we’d really love to see them,” he said.

Navy veteran and Atrium Health Surgical Unit employee Jason Simpson delivered the invocation following the Star Spangled Banner (performed by pianist Charlotte Maness), and the pledge of allegiance.

Army veteran and Atrium Cardiopulmonary Services Director Tisha Surface then brought attention to and explained the symbolism of a specially-prepared table placed in the facility in honor of prisoners of war and those missing in action.

Keynote speaker U.S. Army veteran Dr. Scott Fisher currently serves as program director/associate professor of physician assistant studies at Pfeiffer University.

Fisher served for more than 25 years, starting as a medic at the rank of private and eventually rising to major while earning certification as a physician assistant.

Before retiring from active service, Fisher had deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan and served in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with humanitarian efforts after hurricanes Irma and Maria.

In recounting his service experience, Fisher reminded listeners of the importance of remembering and recognizing the peers, family and friends who provide support systems for those called to duty.

“Being a part of the military means you are at work 24-7-365,” he said, “and leaves get canceled, weekends disappear, and there’s no overtime. You may learn today that you’re leaving for up to 15 months with very short notice, and that you may be moving across the country or to another country altogether. We need to thank those who sacrificed, who ran households independently, so your service member could go do what they were required to do.”

Fisher recounted that one thing that he has left from his time in service is “a passion for fellow veterans.”

“We know that suicide among veterans is not slowing down,” he said. “We must keep fighting that battle…we’ve lost too many friends.”

Fisher noted that he participates annually in a Veterans Day “Hero Walk” event conducted by Crossfit, in which one steps up and down onto a 20-inch step for 1,000 reps while wearing a 45-pound rucksack.

“The walk is named ‘Chad’ after a Navy SEAL who died of suicide,” he said. “Today, men and women around the USA and the world will take part in this exercise to help build awareness of veterans’ suicide.”

Fisher challenged his fellow veterans to reach out to other veterans as a means of support and encouragement to them.

“Send them a text or an e-mail, make a phone call or stop by and visit,” he said. “Let them know that they matter.”
In concluding, Fisher expressed his appreciation to his fellow veterans, in addition to civilians in various support roles.

“I would like to take one moment to thank anyone else here who are police, fire fighters, EMS — whether you’re a provider, nurse or any of the technicians, thank you for your service, for what you do for the community and what you do for our veterans,” he said. “And, to the servicemen and women here today — active reserve, guard, retired veterans, all — I thank you, I respect you and I am here for you, and I salute you.”

Stanly County Veterans Service Officer Bo Almond conveyed his appreciation to Atrium Health for hosting the event, as well as to all who participated.

“This is always a wonderful event, and we really appreciate Atrium hosting the event, as well as supporting all our veterans.”

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.