Honoring Veterans with Dignity at Tacoma General Hospital

Last Updated: 2/12/2024

A Nurse's Commitment to Honor

Keene, a distinguished U.S. Army veteran and dedicated nurse at Tacoma General Hospital, has garnered recognition for his exceptional patient care and unique tribute to fallen veterans. Beyond his medical expertise, Keene embodies respect and compassion, honoring deceased veterans with a solemn tradition: draping the American flag and playing Taps during their final journey through the hospital corridors. This heartfelt patriotism has resonated deeply with patients, families, and staff, solidifying Keene's legacy as a beacon of medical excellence and military pride at Tacoma General Hospital.

At Tacoma General Hospital, Daniel Keene, a dedicated nurse and U.S. Army veteran, has initiated a poignant tradition to honor military veterans in their final moments. His profound respect for those who served led him to establish the Valhalla Flag Project, ensuring that departed veterans are draped in the American flag and given an honor walk through the hospital corridors. This gesture of respect has comforted over 100 military families since its inception in 2020, creating a lasting legacy of honor and gratitude.

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The Birth of a Heartfelt Tribute

The inspiration for this honor walk struck Daniel Keene after witnessing the impersonal treatment of a veteran's passing. Determined to offer a more fitting farewell, he coordinated with hospital staff and chaplains to organize a tribute that includes flag draping, playing ‘Taps,' and a ceremonial walk. This initiative not only signifies the hospital's collective respect for the veteran's service but also offers solace to grieving families, ensuring that the veteran's final journey is marked by dignity and patriotism.

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Expanding the Tribute

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The Valhalla Flag Project, established by Keene, has grown beyond a single act of kindness into a community-supported endeavor. Through the project, Keene has been able to secure donations, including a significant contribution from the Gary Sinise Foundation, which donated 75 flags. The project's visibility has increased, allowing hospital staff to participate in honor walks, and families to decide the final disposition of the flag, be it as a burial flag or a keepsake, further personalizing the tribute to their loved ones.

A Community of Support

The project has inspired a group of nurses at Tacoma General, many of whom are veterans themselves, to join forces in honoring their fellow servicemen and women. This collective effort ensures that every veteran's passing is recognized, regardless of their rank or role. The emotional impact of these honor walks resonates deeply within the hospital, drawing tears and salutes from staff and visitors alike, and strengthening the bond within the military community.

The Journey Forward

Daniel Keene's vision extends beyond the walls of Tacoma General Hospital. He hopes to raise awareness and ensure that no veteran's passing goes unnoticed. By integrating alerts into the hospital's electronic medical record system, Keene aims to facilitate timely honor walks, broadening the scope of this tribute to include more veterans and their families. This initiative underscores the importance of recognizing every veteran's contribution to their country, offering a measure of peace and closure to their families.

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The Valhalla Flag Project underlines the profound respect and gratitude owed to those who have served. Daniel Keene's efforts at Tacoma General Hospital have illuminated the power of a simple act of honor, reminding us of the sacrifices made by military veterans and the enduring impact of their service. To learn more about this touching tribute or to support the Valhalla Flag Project, visit MultiCare Vitals.

The Valhalla Flag Project, spearheaded by Daniel Keene, extends its heartfelt mission beyond the hospital's corridors through the establishment of a dedicated website, offering a platform for those who wish to contribute to this noble cause. The project, rooted in Keene's 12-year tenure as an Army medic and his subsequent transition to nursing, symbolizes a profound commitment to ensuring that veterans receive the honor they deserve in their final moments.

Through the website, supporters can learn about the project's history, its mission to provide a Final Salute to veterans, and ways to contribute, including purchasing vinyl stickers where proceeds go directly to funding the purchase of flags for veteran honor walks.

Expanding its reach, The Valhalla Flag Project not only focuses on the physical act of honoring veterans but also fosters a community of support and remembrance. By offering resources and links to services for veterans and first responders in crisis, the project underscores the importance of solidarity and support within the veteran community.

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The initiative welcomes volunteers and donations, with options like Venmo contributions, to sustain and grow its impact. This gesture of remembrance and respect serves as a beacon of light, emphasizing the collective duty to cherish and honor those who have dedicated their lives to serving the country.

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About the Author: Grady

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