DENTON, Texas — These hospital volunteers already have something in common with the patients they visit each week — they’re all veterans. The Veteran Visitation Program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton honors past and present military service members.
Paul Bowling, Steve Peddicord and Lloyd Kinnison are veteran volunteers at Texas Health Denton.
Lloyd Kinnison, one of four veteran volunteers, makes sure every veteran patient has a visitor during his Friday shift.
“I share my experience in the military to make other veterans feel comfortable enough to talk about their own experiences,” Kinnison said.
Kinnison served in the Army from 1959 to 1962. He built bridges with a combat engineering group outside Heidelberg, Germany.
Decades later, he never thought he’d meet a veteran with a similar journey.
“I met a patient who was stationed about 30 miles from where I was in Germany only four years after I left. We talked about both of us being in the Army and what we did. It broke the ice,” he said.
Kinnison’s wife, Linda, who’s been a hospital volunteer for 14 years, introduced him to the program last year.
Since May 2022, veteran volunteers have visited patients on every floor of the hospital. After a conversation, the volunteer provides each patient with a pin and certificate recognizing their service.
“Veterans are often overlooked or forgotten but this program shows appreciation and gratitude,” said Pam Milam, manager of volunteer services at Texas Health Denton.
Milam said volunteers with the Veteran Visitation Program have logged nearly 1,900 visits so far at Texas Health Denton. Four other hospitals have similar programs, including Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance.
“I like getting to know the patients individually,” Kinnison said. “It’s extremely rewarding to talk to these men and women.”
Some volunteers also participate in a ceremony called the Final Salute, which honors veterans who die at a Texas Health hospital. With the family's approval, a flag is draped over the veteran’s body and they are escorted through the hallway by nurses, honor guards, security guards and the chaplain. Care team members, medical staff physicians and family members also observe a moment of silence.
“There are many veterans in our area and it’s important that they feel seen and heard,” Milam said.
Texas Health Denton is looking for more volunteers, veteran and non-veteran. If you know someone who’s interested, they can follow this link to submit an application.
About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is a faith-based, nonprofit health system that cares for more patients in North Texas than any other provider. With a service area that consists of 16 counties and more than 7 million people, the system is committed to providing quality, coordinated care through its Texas Health Physicians Group and 29 hospital locations under the banners of Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley. Texas Health access points and services, ranging from acute-care hospitals and trauma centers to outpatient facilities and home health and preventive services, provide the full continuum of care for all stages of life. The system has more than 4,100 licensed hospital beds, 6,400 physicians with active staff privileges and more than 26,000 employees. For more information about Texas Health, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit www.TexasHealth.org.