The aisles were lined with hundreds of people cheering and repeatedly stopping the procession of wheelchairs to extend a hand in thanks for the service these brave men and women gave their country. The outpouring of admiration and respect was one of the most moving experiences ever witnessed on the factory floor.
This was the scene the day Raytheon welcomed more than a dozen patients of the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital to the Integrated Air Defense Center (IADC) in Andover, Mass. This visit was an opportunity for our veterans to tour the facility to see how far defense technology has come over the past several decades, and for Raytheon employees to thank the veterans for their brave service.
'My most memorable experience was our first visit with the veterans in Andover. We walked through the facility and employees lined the aisles, cheering, shaking hands and hugging our vets. There was not a dry eye in the house. One veteran told me that was the best day of his life.' - Guy Mawhinney, engineer for Raytheon Company
“We always get back more than we give when we volunteer at the VA,” said Guy Mawhinney an engineer at Raytheon and volunteer at the hospital. “These individuals gave up so much for us to have what we have and a few hours a month to say thank you is a small token that means so much to all of us.”
Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital honors America's veterans by providing exceptional medical care and improving their health and well-being. Located in Bedford, Mass., the Veterans Association (VA) hospital, part of the Bedford VA Medical Center network, specializes in geriatrics and extended care, mental health and physical rehabilitation, and cares for upwards of 450 patients.
Because most of these patients are aging veterans who have no living relatives and limited contact to the world outside the hospital walls, the Bedford VA hospital relies heavily on its volunteer program to improve the lives of patients. More than 75 volunteers are on duty each day to work with the patients and more than 700 individual volunteers annually. Volunteers who give not only their time, but make that effort to reach out to veterans by offering a friendly chat over coffee or providing comfort to patients in their final moments is an invaluable gift. It is the personal interaction that volunteers have with the veterans that resonates the loudest.
Commenting on volunteer efforts, Joseph P. Dooley, chief of Voluntary Service at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Hospital, said, “The commitment our volunteers have shown to our patients demonstrates their concern for America’s heroes.”
Ten years ago a group of Raytheon employees visited the veteran patients as part of their holiday volunteering activities. Since then, a team of 20-to-30 Raytheon volunteers regularly organize events for the veterans, including casino days, holiday parties and annual trips to Gillette Stadium and The Hall at Patriot Place. In addition, Mawhinney and fellow employees have welcomed veterans from the Bedford VA hospital to the company’s Andover facility for tours and lunch to commemorate Veterans Day.