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Milwaukee VA Medical Center


VA staff helps couple celebrate 50th anniversary

Barb Boettcher (right) and Kerri Samson

Barb Boettcher (right) and her daughter, Kerri Samson, were surprised when they found the recovery room decorated to celebrate the Boettcher's 50th wedding anniversary.

By Jim Hoehn
Thursday, January 3, 2019
The handwritten notation inked across Tom Boettcher’s bare, pre-surgical stomach summed up the occasion -- “Happy 50th Honey.”

The anniversary surprise in the recovery room was courtesy of staff at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.

Rather than celebrate their golden wedding anniversary with a trip as planned, the former Army helicopter mechanic and his wife, Barb, traveled from their home in northern Wisconsin for his scheduled surgery at the Milwaukee VA on the Friday before Christmas.

“It was in October, but when he found out that he was going to have to have the surgery, we didn’t want to leave the country,” Barb Boettcher said of changing their travel plans. “And, he had doctor appointments that he had to make in between.”

Happy 50th Honey written across Tom Boettcher's stomach

Barb Boettcher wrote "Happy 50th Honey" across her husband's stomach prior to his surgery (photo courtesy of family).

When members of the VA staff found out it was the couple’s anniversary, they did some quick decorating, stringing a gold-lettered banner across the room, along with a color-coordinated bouquet of congratulatory balloons.

“I got busted coming down the hallway carrying the balloons,” said Amy Couture, a nurse who did most of the decorating.

Aleha Walker, a medical support assistant, created towel swans to set on the window sill.

Happy Annivesary banner

The recovery room was decorated with an anniversary banner and balloons.

When Barb Boettcher and her daughter, Kerri Samson, got back to the recovery room, they were appreciative of the decorations.

“I was surprised,” Barb Boettcher said. “We had put up some little things and put a bow on the door, and I wrote ‘Happy Anniversary.’ Well, then they come up with all of this. That’s really special. Wait until he sees this. He’s going to cry.

“We’ve been blessed in so many ways,” she said. “So many people complain about the VA … and we have been totally blessed by every encounter we’ve had.”


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