Thanksgiving is part of George Wanberg’s life every day of the year.
He believes in saying ‘Thank You’ loud and often to the veterans who served their country during every war since World War II. With it, he awards an appreciation pin and a snappy salute as part of Cornerstone SALUTES! Program which honors and provides specialized services to veterans in Cornerstone Hospice care.
Recently, George was inducted into the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame by Governor Rick Scott, who recognized George’s humanitarian efforts along with 19 other men and women according to a news release.
“The Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame recognizes and honors those military veterans who, through their works and lives during or after military service, have made a significant contribution to the state of Florida through civic, business, public service or other pursuits,” said retired Army Lt. Col. Glenn Sutphin, executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Additionally, George just received a Certificate of Appreciation from the National Commandate of the Marine Corps League which has a membership of more than 65,000 Marine and Navy Corpsmen nationwide.
“It’s a humbling experience and one I don’t take lightly,” he told Style Magazine.
George Wanberg served as a Marine from March 1967, to April 1968, in Viet Nam and the Tet Offensive.
“I was the non-commissioned officer (NCO) of the Pacification Program. We reached out to the civilians after our bombs hit and helped them rebuild their villages. We offered security for the medical and dental teams and tried to help them following the damage that was caused.”
Today, the resident of Howey-in-the-Hills is the Veteran Program Administrator at Cornerstone Hospice where he oversees the Cornerstone SALUTES! Outreach Program in their seven-county region. They have some 1,000 employees and 1,000 volunteers that hold services to honor, award pins, give a salute, and a thank you to some 4,000 to 5,000 area veterans annually.
“Some of these veterans have never been thanked for their services,” George says, “When they receive their pin, a thank you, and a salute, it brings many of them to tears.”
He recalls one Navy veteran he visited following a call from the family that their grandfather needed help after becoming very agitated. Upon visiting, George found him in a quiet, darkened room where the family thought he would be comfortable from the Florida heat.
“It turns out, during his service on a Navy destroyer in Okinawa, the Japanese had sunk his ship and he had to fight his way to the surface to survive. We brought him into a sunlit room and he immediately calmed down. I thanked him for his service and gave him a salute. He passed away later that day,” he recalls.
“George’s passion for ensuring veterans are recognized for their service and that they receive the specialized care they deserve has benefited Cornerstone Hospice. His leadership on veterans’ issue has helped our team provide the highest level of dignity and support to veterans in our care and their families,” said Chuck Lee, president and CEO of Cornerstone Hospice.
In addition, Wanberg is the founder and ministry leader of The Veterans of the Cross, a church-based program supporting veterans.
Now, George’s latest honors are his own personal thanks for a job he has enjoyed during the past six years on staff and another three years previously as a volunteer.