Honoring Our Veterans

About 22 million Americans are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. They will be honored on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at Arlington National Cemetery and in their hometowns across the country.

For more than 20 years at VM, surgical technician Debbie Allen has been honoring our co-workers who are veterans in a sweet and special way. Using her incredible baking talents, she makes and gives away cakes, cookies and other tasty treats to those who served as a thank you.

Today, Debbie’s delicious display honoring veterans was located in VM’s Four Seasons Café. She gave a shoutout to Steve Graham, RN, and Heather Chastain, RN, who helped find the location for this year’s “Thank you, Veterans” deliciousness.

Below is an article Debbie wrote a few years ago and published in our staff newsletter. It explains why she makes this special effort to honor our veterans.


My VM: Honoring Our Veterans
By Debbie Allen

In October of 1988, I walked into surgery at Virginia Mason for the first time. I was happy and surprised to recognize Lieutenant Colonel Mark Bower working here also. He had been stationed with me at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Wash.

Debbie Allen thanks VM’s veterans with home-baked goodness.

As brand-new vets, we noticed that VM didn’t take Veterans Day off. While we didn’t have a holiday, we knew we could still take time to recognize the many veterans who have given so much in service to their country over the years.

I decided to surprise him and the other vets we worked with by bringing an array of home-baked goodies to work. For 19 years, I have continued this tradition. I’ve even added special banners, decorations and table cloths in patriotic themes to make it more festive.

I set up on Level 5 of the hospital near the operating room area, and hand out pastries to veterans to thank them for all they’ve done for our country. When non-veterans come by and ask me if they can have one too, I’m happy to oblige and in return I ask them to find a vet and thank them.

The vets at VM have all appreciated this annual effort. I receive help carrying in the items each year by veterans singing “God Bless America.” And I receive help setting up by people who stand a little bit prouder near the display. I’ve been surprised by how many men and women at VM are veterans.

One retired colonel has speculated that the organization at VM is similar to the military in some ways, so veterans have felt at home here. Whatever the reason, there are many of us who work at Virginia Mason. It is my hope that other departments will start celebrating Veterans Day with us in the future. After all, we all know someone who is a vet!


If you do one thing this weekend, make sure you thank a veteran for his or her service.

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