A Mass General veterans group, collaborating with the Home Base Program, gathered to create Valentine's Day cards for veterans in area VA hospitals.

A crowd of more than 50 Massachusetts General Hospital staffers gathered at The Hill Tavern in Boston recently to put their artistic skills to work by creating handmade cards that be given out to veterans at area Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals on Valentine’s Day.

The MGH Military Veteran Partners (MVP) group held the inaugural event after the idea was suggested by Diane Kuebler, of the Pathology Department, who has created valentines for veterans since she was a teenager.

“This allows us to stay connected and better serve vets coming to the MGH.”

“I volunteered at a VA hospital growing up and just loved this program. It is what actually inspired me to work at a hospital,” says Kuebler. “It’s such a simple thing really to make these handmade cards, and to see MGH vets come together making them is so fun.”

Connection for Veterans

The MVP officially launched on Veteran’s Day in November 2015, after a few MGH veterans began chatting and realized there really was no set group for veterans at the hospital. “We hoped to establish a greater connection for veterans within the MGH community,” says Angela Wynder, RN, MGH Case Management, a veteran who serves as president of the group. “Once away from the military, it’s hard to stay aware of what is going on. This allows us to stay connected and better serve vets coming to the MGH.”

The group welcomes anybody to be involved, both veterans and non-veterans, and they have established collaboration with the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program to help get the group off the ground. Stefanie Ryan, special programs manager at Home Base, also is the MVP communication director. “I’m not a veteran but I have a number of family members who have served,” she says. “This is a great way to build camaraderie within the group and across all different departments.”

“These handmade valentines really are a symbol of the heart, which represent the heart of a veteran.”

Symbol of the Heart

The MGH MVP meets monthly, and hopes to have at least four events each year, as well as education sessions addressing various issues for vets. For more information about the event or to learn more about the employee group MGH MVP please email: MGHVETpartners@partners.org.

“Typically the Christmas season and Memorial Day get so much attention, this provides another opportunity throughout the year to thank our veterans,” says Kuebler. “These handmade valentines really are a symbol of the heart, which represent the heart of a veteran.”

Home Base is the largest private-sector program in the country devoted to healing the invisible wounds of war—post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression, military sexual trauma and family relationship challenges.

To support veterans and families in the Home Base Program, please contact us.

This story was first published by MGH Hotline.