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WWI group donates toward Skiff education


August 2, 2018

Continuing education is important for any career, but it is especially important for health-care providers. Thanks to a donation from the Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses, Skiff Medical Center’s nursing staff will greatly benefit from funding designated to support training and education.

The Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses’ name is rather unique. It was derived from the experience of U.S. Troops during World War I, when American soldiers were transported to the front on the French rail system. The men were cramped inside narrow gauge boxcars, each stenciled with “40 Hommes/8 Chevaux” (denoting its capacity to hold either 40 men or eight horses). This uncomfortable mode of transportation was a common experience for every “doughboy” (infantryman) who fought in the trenches, making it a mutual small misery among American soldiers. Thereafter, they found “40/8” to be a lighthearted symbol of the deeper service, unspoken horrors and shared sacrifice that bind all who have endured combat. 

The Forty and Eight was founded in 1920 by American veterans returning from France. Originally an arm of the American Legion, the Forty and Eight became an independent and separately incorporated veteran’s organization in 1960. Membership was by invitation-only to honorably discharged veterans and honorably serving members of the United States Armed Forces.

The local chapter of the Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses was founded in the early 1920s, shortly after the national chapter, and since that time the organization has consistently supported nursing education by providing a scholarship for a local student. The membership of the local chapter of the Society for Forty Men and Eight Horses has been declining during the past several years, prompting the existing members to discuss options for continuing the organization and utilizing their funds in the best manner to support their mission and the local community. With their long history of supporting nursing education, the gift to the hospital was a logical choice.

“The Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses is proud to make this contribution to Skiff Medical Center to support the education of their nursing staff,” said member John Billingsley. “The organization understands the important role nurses play in providing care to patients and helping them heal. Contributing these funds to Skiff will ensure that the organization will continue to support our mission and impact our local community for years to come.”

“Skiff is incredibly grateful for the Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses investing in the lives of our nurses and patients,” said Leisa Zylstra, Skiff Foundation and Mission Manager. “The legacy of this organization will live on through the impact on the nurses who receive the education, as well as the numerous patients they have the privilege to provide care for.”

(Pictured: Donnie Swihart, member of Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses, presents a donation check to Leisa Zylstra, Skiff Foundation and Mission Manager.)

Skiff Medical Center
204 N. 4th Ave E.
Newton, Iowa 50208
Phone: (641) 792-1273
Toll-free: (888) 792-1273

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Skiff Medical Center, a member of Mercy Health Network, is located in Newton, Iowa. We provide services to Jasper County residents in all major health areas, including general surgery, orthopedic surgery, radiology, obstetrics, emergency medicine, hospice, home care, laboratory, respiratory, audiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. The Skiff Specialty Clinic hosts more than 20 physicians specializing in cardiology, dermatology, ENT, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, oncology, pulmonology and urology.
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