EVS staff member purses lips to honor veterans, community
Twenty-four unmistakable notes pierce the air. They hang there over the course of about sixty seconds.
For those serving on United States military bases, “Taps” signals the end of the day.
When Valerie Bussey plays “Taps,” it’s in honor and remembrance of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“There are veterans in my family – Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines,” she said. “I want to pay tribute to them as well as other service members and their families in my community.”
Bussey is president of the auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4264, an organization that serves veterans, the military and their families in honor of the sacrifices and commitment of the men and women who serve in uniform. She’s also a member of the environmental services team at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.
She was working at the VFW Post in Steamboat Springs when she learned that the veterans were relying on a recording of “Taps” for their annual Memorial Day remembrance. That didn’t feel right to her.
“What I do with the auxiliary is so small compared to what they do,” said Bussey, “They deserved a fitting bugle call, and I knew I could do it.”
Bussey began working with a local reserve Marine who taught her to play “Taps” on a bugle, and she’s done so for nearly 20 years now at Memorial Day ceremonies in Steamboat Springs.
“It’s humbling to be able to play ‘Taps’ each year,” she said, fighting back tears. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
Bussey said it’s important to her to give back, through her work with the auxiliary, as a member of the community and as someone who interacts with patients through the health care setting, noting there are a number of veterans and auxiliary members who work at YVMC.
“I take pride in making sure that when people enter our doors, the doctors and nurses have what they need to care for patients, and that the patients can trust that they’re in good hands,” she said. “First impressions can go a long way.”
For many years, Bussey interacted with residents at the Doak Walker Care Center, an extended care center previously located on the campus of YVMC. She always made time to stop, listen and engage when cleaning rooms – something she also does when cleaning hospital patient rooms.
“I heard stories from code talkers, a Tuskegee airman, World War II nurses – those women were tough,” she said. “Listening to their stories, you realize that a lot of people, probably most people, don’t know what they sacrificed.”
For the past few years, Bussey’s granddaughter has provided a bugle echo to hers, something she is proud of.
“It’s fun to get to play with her, but even more so, I’m glad that she understands the importance of giving back in this manner,” said Bussey. “I try to do what I can to make the lives of others a little bit better. It doesn’t have to be a big, grand gesture, but I know that every bit counts.”