Caring for veterans is a big part of what the new Medical Center of Trinity, Fla. does, and the facility’s deep respect for the U.S. military is on display every day since the dedication of a Missing Man Memorial.

The memorial honors military personnel who are missing in action and/or prisoners of war, and is the most visible of Trinity’s many efforts to honor and care for veterans in the Pasco County area. Some 55,000 vets live in the county, and 30 percent of its residents have a family connection to the military, so this group is an important focus for the hospital. In fact, many local veterans have told hospital officials that they want to receive treatment at Medical Center of Trinity thanks to its recognition of their service, said Mary Sommise, director of marketing, who adds that a veteran was responsible for the idea in the first place.

“We were out in the community, introducing ourselves ahead of our move into the new facility, and began talking to a gentleman who was a 21-year veteran of the Air Force,” Sommise said. “He also worked to get a USO facility at Tampa International Airport. That conversation launched an incredible collaboration with several local veterans’ groups to create an unbelievable flag-raising event at our dedication last November. We had Rolling Thunder [a group that works to raise POW/MIA awareness], local veterans, color guards, high-school students, business leaders and elected officials all taking part. It was an amazing way to introduce our hospital to the community.”

Part of the ceremony focused on a Missing Man table that had been set up for the event, and Trinity officials asked the veterans groups if a permanent table could be placed in the new facility. Everyone was in agreement, and when Trinity officially opened in February a full-scale ceremony was conducted.

The hospital’s table has a few nuances when compared to those at most military bases around the world. It is outside the dining area, but where an army base’s table would have just one place setting to reflect that branch of the service, the Trinity table has six settings to reflect all 5 branches of the U.S. military with the 6th place reflecting civilians. It is maintained by hospital volunteers.The hospital also flies the Prisoner of War (POW) flag along with the U.S. flag, something else that local vets have noticed.

“We had one patient tell us that he had been going to another hospital, but when he saw the POW flag, he chose our hospital for his procedure,” Sommise said.

“We wanted to have something that was designed to create awareness and a remembrance of all those who have not come home,” added Trinity CEO Leigh Massengill. “We are a community hospital, and veterans are such an important part of our community. They are a tremendous group of people, and it has been a highlight for all of us to work with them.”