WNHG provides final tribute for area nurses
A clarification for the Nurses Honor Guard story: The WRNHG performs a final tribute to any nurse licensed or registered, any level – LPNs, RN, and advanced practice nurses, active or retired – at the time of their death. This is to honor them for their dedication and contributions made in their nursing profession. It is provided free of charge in the state of Wisconsin.
By Kyra Jagodzinski
CENTRAL WISCONSIN – Since 2016, the Wisconsin Nurse Honor Guard (WNHG) has been providing a final tribute, free of charge, to both registered and retired Wisconsin nurses to honor those who have dedicated their lives to the profession.
With over 88,000 in the state, the WNHG provides memorial services, funeral home, church service, or gravesite services anywhere in Wisconsin.
The service “recognizes nurses at the time of their passing,” providing “ceremonial traditions to honor them for the dedication and contributions made in the nursing profession.”
The guard was established by Jamie Bohacek in the Milwaukee area, after she watched states like Indiana, Ohio, and Texas honor their deceased colleagues.
“Nurses make many sacrifices during their lifetime and this is a way to say ‘thank you’ and show their families how much we appreciate them,” Bohacek told Ascension Healthcare about the WNHG.
After becoming an official nonprofit in 2019, the honor guard has provided over 125 funerals and memorial services for Wisconsin nurses.
Volunteer and registered nurse Mary Schlafke, of central Wisconsin, has participated in six tributes thus far, and aspires to complete training to become a lead in the tribute.
Schlafke says that the nurse honor guard is “comparable to the Last Rites of someone who has been in the military” as a final tribute to their career.
Volunteers like Mary use donations to execute the memorial, an eight to 15-minute tribute for their colleagues to thank them for their dedication to the profession.
Volunteers perform the tribute in self-supplied traditional white uniforms, with occasional vintage-style caps. Biographies of the nurses’ careers are read aloud to the mourners, with the Florence Nightingale Pledge, which is recited by all nurses at graduation. A final symbol of gratitude, a candle is blown out and the lamp is gifted to a family member of the deceased.
In addition to their service to the tribute of the nurses of Wisconsin, the Nurse Honor Guard has “just this year started to donate to four nursing schools a year,” which allows those schools to provide a scholarship for a nursing student of each school.
The services provided by the WNHG have continued through the COVID environment, with members following state and local guidelines to provide memorial services for the nurses.
To schedule a final tribute to a nurse in your family, reach out to the Wisconsin Nurses Honor Guard at https://winurseshonorguard.com.
Funeral homes will work cohesively with the WNHG to honor the individual in their personal and professional life following their passing.