Before he ever received one himself, Dr. Grant Tibbetts observed some Vietnam veterans being recognized with a Quilt of Valor. “The first thing the presenter said was, ‘Welcome home,’” says Tibbetts. “Many of those vets from that particular war hadn’t ever felt welcomed home. It was pretty emotional. I appreciated what the group was doing to change the tone.”
In August 2016, Tibbetts was recognized for his 29 years of military service by Thurston County Quilts of Valor in a ceremony attended by friends, neighbors, clinical colleagues and staff at TRA Medical Imaging Olympia – on Lilly, where he is Medical Director.
Quilts of Valor’s mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts. The organization was founded in 2003 and has since given 140,000 quilts nationwide. Tibbetts first encountered this idea in Afghanistan. “Every patient had a quilt that had been handmade by somebody in the States,” he says. “For me to get one personally was really cool.” His wife Suzie is one of the quilters locally.
Tibbetts saw the recognition as an opportunity to let people know about the award in order to consider others they might nominate. “When I was being honored I wanted to help them identify others worthy of being nominated,” he says. “There are still a lot of people who need quilts. It was a chance to let everybody from our office understand and learn a little bit about how they could nominate their friends and neighbors.” He also invited colleagues from Madigan South Sound Clinic. “These providers come into contact with many eligible veterans,” he says, “and the many volunteers representing Quilts of Valor enjoyed meeting several of them”
Through his wife, he’s aware of what it takes to create each quilt. “There’s an amazing amount of labor that goes into it,” he says. “Most people don’t know what they do. There’s a great team of volunteers in Olympia who do this work.”
Now that he’s out of the military, his medical career looks a bit different but many things remain the same. “People don’t call me sir very often, and I have to decide what to wear in the morning, which is good and bad,” he says. “It’s bad if I’m not feeling very creative, but good if I feel like wearing a bow tie, because those usually clash with camouflage.”
Through TRA, he’s returned to do what he loves best. “What I’m doing now is not dissimilar from certain stages of my career in different locations where the majority of my time was clinical,” he says. “Later I spent a lot of time doing executive level things like meetings, and I pined for clinical work. Now I’m going back to what I love, which is patient care.”
Those who’ve decided they want to serve in medicine are similar to people who dedicate themselves to the military, he maintains. “They’re civilians from many different backgrounds but they have a passion for what they do and care a lot about their work. I appreciate that.”
For more information about TRA Medical Imaging, visit www.tranow.com or call the Olympia location on Lilly Road at 360-413-8383 or toll free at 866-761-4200.