Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) co-owners Kevin and DeLana Harvick along with three-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday paid a special visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Tuesday, April 7th. The Harvicks and Hornaday were greeted by Walter Reed’s commander general, Maj. Gen. Carla Hawley-Bowland, upon arrival. Being accompanied by VFW National Commander Glen Gardener the group participated in a tour of the hospital, visiting injured soldiers, signing autographs and experiencing the services provided by proud KHI sponsor Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
“This is an opportunity very few people get to experience,” said Kevin Harvick. “I am very proud of our affiliation with the VFW and all of the programs they offer to our veterans and their families. I was able to personally say thank you to some of our country’s finest men and women who have given so much for all of us. This visit was an eye-opening experience at how far medical research has come and it was truly an honor to be able to meet and talk with these brave men and women.”
Harvick and Hornaday were able to trade stories with the patients as they talked about racing and listened to the injured soldiers discuss their families, how they sustained their wounds and how long they had been in the military.
“I could listen to these guys talk all day,” Harvick said. “Just hearing about their experiences is amazing, it helps you understand what true courage and loyalty is all about.”
Hornaday, who had made a trip to Iraq to visit troops a few years ago, echoed the thoughts of his boss.
“I really value our relationship with the VFW, it is through our affiliation with them that we get the opportunity to come to places like this,” said Hornaday. “It is incredible to listen to the stories and hear how desperately these patients want to get well only to rejoin their battalion. This visit was a real honor. I got the opportunity to shake hands with true heroes. I am so thankful for each and every person in this hospital, not only the patients but the doctors and nurses who are taking care of them. A visit like this really makes you proud to be an American.”
This year Walter Reed Army Medical Center will celebrate 100 years of serving America’s wounded men and women. Walter Reed currently has about 30 inpatients and 680 outpatients who are Iraq or Afghanistan veterans. Since 9/11, more than 10,000 current war servicemen and women have been through the hospital, which is scheduled to merge with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., in 2011.
The Army also used yesterday’s visit to present Hornaday and the Harvicks with Freedom Team Salute commendations in recognition of their strong support of soldiers. The commendations, which are signed by Army Secretary Pete Geren and Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., is part of a program established in 2005 to formally recognize individuals within the civilian and military communities who actively support the Army and its soldiers.