Hospices Honor Veterans Across the Country
By Sydney Shepherd
“It’s because of them I enjoy many freedoms. I enjoy them because of their sacrifice,” said Vietnam War Veteran, David Powell about the dying veterans he visits through NHPCO’s We Honor Veterans Program. Powell shows up in his olive drab military flight suit and presents these veterans with a personalized, name-engraved plaque acknowledging their service, a hat pin that shows their military branch (something the military veterans love most), and also presents the veterans’ spouses with a pin honoring them for the care that they have provided for the veteran through the years. Lastly, he gathers as many veterans as he can at the facility and together they give the dying veteran a final salute.
There are many stories like David Powell’s that demonstrate the effort and support We Honor Veterans hospice and community partners offer when visiting veterans who are near the end of their lives. With Veterans Day approaching this Saturday, these stories are being shared worldwide. Here are a few:
Ontario-Yates Hospice volunteers from New York honored Navy Commander Dale F. Mueller, 94, of Penn Yan, New York a veteran of two wars. The ceremony included a flag lap throw, presentation of a U.S. flag pin and framed certificate acknowledging and thanking him for his service, a reading of “The Sailor’s Creed,” and concluded with a formal salute in the presence of his children. Mary Zelazny, one of Mueller’s daughters, mentioned that he loved the ceremony. “He was always very proud of his military service,” she said.
Oswego County Hospice expanded its We Honor Veterans Program by recognizing the hospice veteran and spouse with a recognition and pinning ceremony. Pictured is World War II Coast Guard veteran, Jean Barry honored by Hospice volunteers Dawn and Mike Leduc. “Not only is Hospice honoring its veterans, it is an honor to be a veteran honoring veterans. These recognition ceremonies are allowing me to give back to my fellow veterans, while at the same time gaining an amazing gift from each of them,” said Mike, a Navy veteran.
Heartlite Hospice held a “We Honor Veterans Lunch” to celebrate the brave veterans who fought and served our country. This is the fifth year of the event, which typically occurs the week before or after Veterans Day. The lunch included a video presentation, a POW/MIA ceremony, performance of taps, and gifts for every attendee with personal thank you notes from students at a local high school.
Season Hospice & Palliative Care has decided to honor veterans through five unique “We Honor Veterans” ceremonies in their Metro Denver facilities through November 13. “We have veteran volunteers who will be conducting the ceremony, recognizing each member by their branch of service, pinning a special pin and presenting them with a certificate of appreciation,” said April Dovorany, Manager of Public Relations with Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care. “We’ll also have patriotic music, encouraging words from local lawmakers and our staff, and a time to reflect for our patients and their families.”
Ron Nitchie, a U.S. Air Force veteran and spiritual care advisor for Arbor Hospice and Hospice of Michigan, pins an American flag on Nicholas Smith, a 100 year old who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Nitchie’s personal military experience and clinical pastoral education training help him provide special assistance and spiritual guidance for veteran patients, like Lewis, at the end-of-life.