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VIEWPOINT: Taking care of our heroes
Guest column by Sec. Greg Whitlock, South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs
In September, I visited Mount Rushmore to pay tribute to the four great heroes who are carved into the mountainside in the Black Hills.
Master carver Gutzon Borglum said that he selected George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt in order to commemorate the founding, growth, preservation and development of the United States of America. As I sat at the base of Mount Rushmore, I couldn’t help but think about the American history these four men created – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Louisiana Purchase, the construction of the Panama Canal, ensuring the rights of the working man, the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War, preserving our union and abolishing slavery. These events are important for Americans to learn about, appreciate and understand for generations to come.
One of those four heroes, Abraham Lincoln, said, “honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.”
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This is one of my favorite Lincoln quotes. It makes me think about all that we provide to our veterans at the Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home. Our home stands as a tribute to our heroes who answered their country’s call to arms. We provide our heroes with high quality, long-term care. Our warm, friendly and compassionate staff are dedicated to the health and welfare of our heroes.
I encourage everyone to visit our website – vetaffairs.sd.gov – and take a virtual tour of this state-of-the-art facility. Every veteran has a private room with a private bath. The rooms are organized into neighborhoods. Amongst the neighborhoods is our beautiful Town Square, which consists of a library, game room, chapel, post office, barber-beauty shop, pharmacy and bistro. We also have on-site physical, speech and occupational therapists.
Please call our team at 605-745-5127 to learn more about the home and the admission criteria. We are here to serve those who have served us all.
In 2014, we launched the Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home Endowment Fund to enhance and maintain the quality of life for our residents at the home. Our goal is to build a $3 million permanent endowment. The investment income from the fund will be used to support residents of the Veterans Home who have expended their financial resources. Together, we will improve the quality of our facilities and services while supporting the home’s mission to provide compassionate nursing and care to our veterans and residents.
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This fund embodies these great words that Abraham Lincoln used in his inaugural address, “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.”
There is something about military service that creates a bond between veterans that no one else can fully understand. The fact that we fought together and survived together is a bond that will never be broken and will never be exhausted.
Greg Whitlock has been secretary of South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs since 2019 and is an Army veteran who has received two Meritorious Service Medals, four Army Commendation Medals, four Army Achievement medals, an Iraq Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.