VCARE Nursing Students Honored with Quilts of Valor
USF College of Nursing VCARE students received handmade quilts from a grassroots quilts-for-veterans group this week in honor of their military service.
The 22-member cohort, set to graduate next month, were awarded the Quilts of Valor during an emotional recognition ceremony at the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center.
The USF Office of Veteran Success presented a handcrafted quilt to students in the Veteran to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, as well as to Program Director Dr. Alicia Rossiter, and Frank Morsani, a well-known philanthropist, Korean War veteran, and namesake of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.
“This really, truly is an honor,” said Dr. Rossiter, DNP, ARNP, FNP, PPCNP-BC, FAANP, who is a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves Nurse Corps. “This is a huge honor, especially for individuals who spent their entire military career caring for others. To have the care be returned to them is just so meaningful and special for these students.”
According to the Quilts of Valor Foundation, the nonprofit was founded in 2003 by Catherine Roberts whose son Nat was deployed in Iraq. Since its inception, more than 170,000 quilts have been awarded to veterans from the grassroots quilting organization.
The quilts are made by volunteers, follow specific quilt-making dimensions, and can take up to 60 hours to sew. The first Quilt of Valor was awarded in November 2003 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to a young soldier from Minnesota who had lost his leg in Iraq.
The handmade quilts awarded this week were sewn by the Tampa-based quilting group CT Quilters. The quilting club is the local chapter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
Member Sharon Kalinowski said presenting veterans with a quilt is a way to thank them for their service while giving them something tangible and comforting to hold.
Each year the Office of Veteran Success coordinates with CT Quilters to recognize graduating USF veterans with a quilt. So far, about 60 quilts have been awarded to USF veterans.
This is the first time the quilts have been given to an entire nursing graduating class.
“These are people who have saved lives and never expected a thank you and to have this reflection of thankfulness for their service is pretty incredible,” said Dr. Rossiter.
Nursing student Tamara Maynard, who was a Navy Corpsman and served in Iraq, said she was honored to receive the handmade quilt and grateful for the recognition.
“It’s a physical representation of what veterans have done,” Maynard said. “Every time that I see it, it will remind me of this ceremony. It will remind me of my classmates and my cohort. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve all had diverse, individual experiences in combat and deployments. This is a good reminder of what we’ve all been through.”
Classmate Jeff Hoyle said he appreciated how their contributions as veterans were acknowledged and celebrated.
“It turned out to be a very stirring event,” Hoyle said, who plans to remain in the Army’s nursing corps after graduation. “It was unexpected. It was a very welcome surprise.”
Fellow cohort Yazmin Davila said the ceremony was special and a nice reminder that veterans were not forgotten.
“It was just really thoughtful,” Davila said. “I really appreciated it. I think any time we get recognized for being a veteran and for the sacrifices, it’s nice. I’m grateful.”
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing