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South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)

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San Antonio MOPH visits Polytrauma patients

Service-specific stocking stacked on a cart with a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart loking on

The group of Vietnam Veterans from the San Antonio Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart have their stockings ready for delivery prior to going upstairs to the Polytrauma Inpatient Ward.

By Steve Goetsch
Friday, December 18, 2015

Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 1836 from San Antonio, Texas, and members of the National Office recently visited the patients at the South Texas VA Polytrauma unit to wish them a Merry Christmas and bring them customized service stockings filled with electronics and other items. They received a briefing on the mission from STVHCS Assistant Chief of Voluntary Services Harry Robinson, who broke down what military services are currently on the ward.

About half of the patients admitted in 2015 were Veterans, with the other half being active duty. The Army was about a third of the admissions.

Robinson also talked about the mission and purpose of the unit, which is only one of five in the entire VA Health Care System. The unit handles the most extreme and complex injuries, frequently involving head injury and cognitive issues.

The unit receives approximately 100 patients annually, and their stays vary, but can be as long as nine months according to Rick Reusch, Associate Chief of Nursing Service for Spinal Cord Injury.


A group of Veterans from the Military Order of the Purple Heart gathered in a patient room talking with a patient while lying in his hospital bed.

Injured Army Private, Donovan Hollis, talks about his injuries and his recovery with the San Antonio Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) members. Most of the MOPH visiting were fellow soldiers. Hollis makes up part of the 37 percent of Army Veterans that go through Polytrauma each year.

The local San Antonio and national members of the MOPH were escorted by Registered Nurse, Virginia Isip who loves having visitors to the unit. "All of us in polytrauma enjoy sharing the great success stories of our patients," Isip said. "The patients enjoy the visits and they connect with the Veterans and service members."

Isip added that the visits are important to the patients evidenced by their smiles and expressions of joy when someone has taken the time out of their busy schedules to pay them a visit.

In addition to brightening their day, Isip said the electronic gifts also serve a therapeutic purpose by providing patients a form of stimuli.

Army Spc. Jack Deleuw, who had just returned from surgery at Audie Murphy, is on the unit during his recovery. The members of the MOPH thanked him for his service and applauded his personal goal of successfully returning to service.

A female patient listens the the Christmas well-wishes given my two members of the San Antonio Military Order of the Purple Heart group standing in front of her.

Army Veteran Naomi Joyner shakes hands, and is thanked for her service by members of the San Antonio Military Order of the Purple Heart. Joyner was surprised and grateful for their unexpected visit. She even had the opportunity to share with the group, a beautifully decorated Christmas Tree completed with the help of her son.

The look of amazement on Army Veteran Naomi Joyner might have been due to the iPod device handed to her, or the several, purple-clad Vietnam Veterans that were standing before her. After the shock and awe subsided, and after receiving Christmas greetings and well-wishes from the group, she proudly showed-off her own Christmas tree she decorated with her son.  

The MOPH brought more than just gifts, they brought companionship and camaraderie. Patient and fellow Army Veteran Donovan Hollis was all smiles when he traded stories of Army life and deployments with the group, most of which are Vietnam era Veterans.

Isip said when she sees good health outcomes; it makes here proud to be a VA nurse. If good health outcomes are measured in smiles and handshakes, Isip and her dedicated teammates at the South Texas Polytrauma unit have a lot to be proud of.  


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