Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

Service to our Country

by | Jul 3, 2012

Upon retiring from a 26 year career as a Navy dentist, Richard “Dick” Riemann wanted to give back to the military through IVC. “I would see patients at the Naval Hospital when I went there for my own care, and knew I wanted to work with veterans in my retirement. I am so grateful for our military and how dedicated and devoted they are to what they do”.

Dick Riemann volunteers at the Armed Services Y at the Naval Medical Center of San Diego, Balboa Naval Hospital. He is part of a team that meets Medevac patients returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many return to Balboa Naval Hospital with multiple amputations and require extensive medical treatment. The hospital treated 273 Medevac patients last year.

Dick prepares the coffee cart to offer snacks and refreshments to patients and their families

After patients meet with physicians and hospital staff, Dick and his colleagues welcome them to San Diego and see if there is anything they need. They share information about housing for their families while they are in the hospital, answer questions about insurance, offer snacks and water, and take intake notes to share with staff.

“I went in thinking, ‘I’m going to help these guys’. But I get so much more out of it. It has changed my attitudes. What do I have to complain about – a few aches and pains? This work helps me.”

Dick shares one interaction that impacted him. “Through a simple outreach, I was able to make a difference for one mother. She was a single mother from a small town in Washington State whose son lost two legs and one arm in Afghanistan. When I met her, she was worn down and exhausted from travel. As we began our conversation, I told her that I had recently passed through her home town. This was all it took for her to relax and converse with me and share about her son growing up in their community. All I was able to offer her was a cup of hot coffee and the conversation, and she was so grateful. I walked away feeling blest, that I had been so warmly recepted. It’s amazing that something so small could have an impact.”

Dick shares insights into the strong family bonds and support offered to returning military. “Parents show amazing care for their children … A father had been out of work for two and a half years. He got a job and as he was getting ready in the morning for his first day of this new position, he received a call that his son had been wounded in Afghanistan. An IED had blown off both of his legs. The father immediately called his employer to say he wasn’t coming, and traveled to meet his son at Walter Reed Medical Hospital. He stayed at his bedside for eight months. When he was transferred to San Diego, he stayed at his bedside for a considerable amount of time until he was moved to a different area. This was a remarkable situation in which the father showed such love and dedication to his son. I was blest to witness this.”

“Every time I am there, I come away with way more than I ever give.”