Breakfast honors veterans working in the Texas Medical Center
For five years, the Texas Medical Center and its member institutions have been formally committed to hiring veterans as part of the Hiring Red, White & You! initiative. On Nov. 5, just days before Veterans Day, the initiative held its annual breakfast at the John P. McGovern campus of the Texas Medical Center honoring veterans at the TMC.
“There are thousands of veterans working at the Texas Medical Center today as a result of this initiative,” said Larry D. Perkins, Ph.D., executive director of HR talent organization at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and a veteran. “This is all about you and your service to our country and, those of you who work in health care, your continued service to our patients and their families.”
Following Perkins’ opening remarks was a presentation of colors by a color guard made up of local Marine Corps Junior ROTC members.
This year’s event was especially poignant, as it honored James H. “Red” Duke Jr., M.D. Duke was an icon on the TMC campus. The John B. Holmes Professor in the Clinical Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and the medical director of Life Flight at Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Institute, Duke was also a veteran and a co-founder of Hiring Red, White & You!
“Patients loved him—if you were walking from one place to the other side of the hospital, you had to add 25 minutes because he got stopped over and over,” said fellow Hiring Red, White & You! co-founder John Holcomb, M.D., a retired colonel and vice chair of the Department of Surgery and Jack H. Mayfield, M.D., Chair in Surgery at UTHealth. “We miss him dearly. If he was here, he would have you guys rolling in the seats.”
In Duke’s eyes, the work of helping fellow veterans was never done. If he were present, Holcomb said, Duke would challenge the whole room.
“You’ve been hired, now you’ve got to help hire 10 more, so next year when we come here we’ll need a bigger room,” Holcomb said.
Following Holcomb’s words was the Challenge Coin ceremony, during which the newest veteran hires from each institution were given a special coin commemorating the medical center’s commitment to veterans. Perkins also introduced the formation of the Texas Medical Center Veterans Affinity Group to discuss issues related to veterans in the TMC and to increase outreach to the veteran community.
“All it takes to serve is a heart and a will,” Perkins said. “I challenge each and every one of us to keep serving our community.”