Removing your hat is traditionally a gesture of respect, such as when the National Anthem is played. The Surgery team at Dignity Health – Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) West in Prescott is showing their respect by giving hats – scrub hats, that is – to the military veterans who work in the operating room.

“The hats were specially made for our co-workers who are also veterans,” says Mary Szymanski, RN, Nurse Specialty Lead, Surgery at Dignity Health – YRMC, and a veteran who served two tours for Operation Enduring Freedom, one in Afghanistan. “It’s our way of recognizing the top one percent of Americans who raise their right hands and state they will defend our great nation.”

Fifteen veterans from the YRMC West Surgery team – seven staff members and eight physicians – were presented with the scrub hats prior to Veterans Day (November 11, 2022). Each scrub hat was sewn with fabric representing their respective branch of the military—Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps or Navy. The hats also include the traditional military dog tags.

“We seem to have a high percentage of staff members who served in the military,” says Kristine Blake, RN, BSN, CNOR, Nurse Manager, Surgery, YRMC West. “We’re very fortunate to work with so many veterans. They’re all excellent employees who care very much about their work.”

Disciplined, honest, resourceful, committed and team players are words Blake and Szymanski use to describe the veterans with whom they work. Those admirable characteristics prompted Szymanski to organize the Veterans Day recognition.

“It’s important to recognize our veterans’ sacrifices,” she says. “You just can’t put a price tag on the impact serving has on your life and your family.”

Several of the Surgery Department physicians called to duty in Desert Storm were sole practitioners. They lost their medical practices while serving. Another YRMC surgical technologist served 20 years of active duty. Even so, the veterans will readily point out the positive impact of military service—discipline, the opportunity to serve your country, the fulfillment of working for something larger than you as an individual, and more.

“We are spotlighting the veterans who work in our Surgery Department,” notes Blake, “but it’s our goal to thank all of the veterans who work at Dignity Health – YRMC and its affiliates. They’ve done so much for their community and country in both the military and civilian world.”

Happy Veterans Day to all who have served, including the Dignity Health – YRMC Surgery team members pictured with this article. Below are their names, current positions at YRMC, and their military service.

First row, left to right

  • Thomas Monachino, MD, anesthesiologist, and flight surgeon/chief aeromedical service, U.S. Air Force
  • Randy Stout, CCP, perfusionist, and torpedoman, submarine warfare, U.S. Navy
  • Mary Szymanski, RN, circulator/scrub nurse/specialty lead, and Nurse Corps, U.S. Army
  • Michael Decker, MD, anesthesiologist, and anesthesiologist, U.S. Army
  • Ronny Criswell, RN, circulator/scrub RN, and boatswain’s mate, U.S. Coast Guard
  • Charles Ricks Jr., ORT, surgical technologist, and surgical technologist, U.S. Army

Second row, left to right

  • Francisco Jaume, DO, orthopedic surgeon, and orthopedic surgeon, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force
  • Kyle Carter, MD, anesthesiologist, and surgery flight commander, U.S. Air Force
  • Chris Simrell, STFA, surgical tech first assistant, and hospital corpsman, U.S. Navy
  • Burt Fabisoff, MD, plastic surgeon, and regimental surgeon, U.S. Army and U.S. Navy

Third row, left to right

  • Codi Stout, SA-C/STFA, scrub tech first assistant, and hospital corpsman, U.S. Navy
  • Paul Braithwaite, DO, anesthesiologist, and anesthesiologist, U.S. Air Force
  • Craig Leicht, MD, MPH, interventional pain management, and commander, U.S. Navy
  • Greg Marrs, ST, surgical technologist, and hospital corpsman, U.S. Navy

David Mahoney, MD, anesthesiologist, and flight surgeon, U.S. Air Force (not pictured)