Veterans Day is a perfect time to celebrate our associates who have served in the military. At Bon Secours, we are so proud of our veteran employees who exemplify our mission, vision and values in the work they do every day.
George Park, who grew up in Simpsonville, S.C., decided to join the U.S. Navy when he was 20 years old.
“Meeting my girlfriend, now wife, Shana, was the push that helped me make the decision,” says George. “I was 20 years young and had no real path in life. I needed a career that would ensure we could be together for the long run.”
After a few tearful goodbyes, George left for Great Lakes, Ill. on April 13, 1993. Arriving in the cold and rain, his boot camp experience began.
“I was the popular one during mail call,” George recalls. “Shana wrote me every day, numbering each one so I read them in order. This validated my belief that she was the one. We were married within the year.”
Shana moved from Easley, S.C. to Norfolk, Va. for George’s first duty station where he worked in a personnel office. After a few years, he decided his military career path needed a change and he became a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman.
“It was there I found a love for helping people in a unique way as a combat medic,” he says.
They then moved to Camp Lejeune, N.C. where George served with the U.S. Marines in an infantry battalion.
“I learned how to get to know my patients personally and do everything I could to give them the best care,” he says. “I was charged with all aspects of their care. The physically demanding work taught me that life can always be worse than my current condition.”
George had a wide variety of experiences over his 20 years of military service. He worked in large hospitals, small clinics alongside aircraft hangars and tents in harsh environments. He served in makeshift buildings in far off countries and on 25-mile hikes with full combat loads on his back.
“Many memories flood my mind of friends gained and lost, lessons learned, mistakes made,” says George. “In the moment, complaints were many and often, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
George’s most meaningful memory was a helicopter flight on Christmas Eve of 2006. It was a medical evacuation flight leaving from their simple Forward Operating Base, Camp KV and flying to the Al Asad Airbase Hospital.
“The patient was an enemy combatant with a stable gunshot wound to the shoulder,” George recalls. “It was on that hour-long helicopter flight that I was deep in thought and prayer about Matthew 5:44, which says, ‘But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’”
With two armed U.S. Marines watching over the entire flight while the patient was bound to a stretcher, George kept a watchful eye over his vital signs, IV flow rate and ensured his bandages were controlling the bleeding.
It was an uneventful flight as they touched down on the tarmac. The patient was offloaded and brought to the awaiting medical staff with more guards. Still, it was a memorable night for George because of the deep thoughts it evoked.
Today, George works as a substance abuse coordinator for Bon Secours Mercy Health’s WorkWell Occupational Health in Greenville, S.C. He works out of St. Francis Eastside, which is a mere quarter mile from where he met Shana all those years ago.
“Joining the ministry of Bon Secours Mercy Health, I feel I serve a similar role,” says George. “In the U.S. Navy, there was always a Marine or Sailor who was the underdog. It was often my job to speak up in stressful situations. As a team, we fight to ensure those entrusted to our care have an advocate and a voice.”
Learn about a Bon Secours nursing director who recently won the Patriot Award.