Veterans Helping Veterans 5

New health care program debuts at Holy Cross

If you’ve ever come across the question, “Have you served in the military?” on medical paperwork, Holy Cross Hospital President and CEO Dr. Norvell Coots wants you to understand the importance of answering honestly.

“If I came into the ER with a hurt knee but didn’t identify myself as a veteran, and you didn’t ask, you wouldn’t know that I was injured in combat, that I also have a hurt shoulder and maybe a little PTSD, that I’m having problems dealing with my family at home—you would only look at my knee,” he explains.

A veteran himself, having served in the U.S. Army for 36 years, Coots took a special interest in helping to spearhead Trinity Health Military and Veterans Health, the new program now available at Holy Cross.

“We trained our staff in the differences between the military branches and what it means to have served in Vietnam and the medical effects of the Gulf War, Desert Storm or Operation Iraqi Freedom,” he says. “If you didn’t know these things and someone came in and said they served in Afghanistan, you might thank them for their service, but you probably wouldn’t know that they were likely exposed to burn pits and might suffer a respiratory syndrome as a result.

“No one goes to war and comes back the same person. That’s the first thing you have to recognize,” he says. “We really want to have a holistic approach, helping both the military member and their family, getting beyond just the presenting symptom to offer the care that these patients truly deserve.”

“No one goes to war and comes back the same person.”

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