On Memorial Day, Americans nationwide will stop to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Many will attend memorial services, watch parades, or lay flowers and plant flags on the graves to honor Veterans. Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, this year’s Memorial Day will continue to be a bit different. Despite the challenges, Americans will continue to honor those who died in service of the United States.
Veteran volunteers at Ohio’s Hospice Lifecare performed a Veteran recognition ceremony in this video.
“Just as we remember those who died serving in the U.S. military, Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare honors Veteran patients each and every day for their service to our nation,” said Kurt Holmes, executive director of Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare. “Through American Pride® Veteran Care by Ohio’s Hospice, Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare honors the service of Veteran patients and assures them of receiving the highest quality of care.”
In addition to celebrating and thanking Veterans for their service, American Pride assists patients in obtaining access to all the benefits to which Veterans are eligible, provides spiritual support, and addresses individual post-traumatic stress issues. Through participation in Veteran recognition ceremonies, special observances and celebrations, Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare celebrates the lives of Veterans and honors their contributions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare has continued to conduct Veteran recognition ceremonies. “Despite the restrictions brought on by COVID-19, Veteran recognitions remain a point of honor and respect for our Veteran patients,” said Beki McCurdy, manager of Volunteer Services at Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare. “Veteran patients, who have served our nation in uniform, remain just as worthy of recognition for their time of service.”
Veteran volunteers are instrumental in the ceremony. Many of the Veterans receive a plaque, which includes the seal of the branch of the military in which the Veteran served. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a Veteran volunteer presented the plaque to the patient. During the pandemic, the patient’s care team presented the plaque to the Veteran while the Veteran volunteer participated in the ceremony through the phone or video when possible.
Through its Vet-to-Vet program, Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare has found that Veteran patients appreciate spending time with the Veteran volunteers. “We have found, particularly with Vietnam Veterans, that a visit from another Vietnam Veteran is a very effective way of supporting the military veterans we serve,” McCurdy said.
The Vet-to-Vet program at Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare grew out of a request from a World War II Veteran. “A few years ago, one of our patients asked if we had a Veteran of World War II who could visit,” McCurdy said. “We sent one of our volunteers, a World War II Veteran, to visit with the patient.”
The patient had told his family quite a bit about his service during the war, but he said he needed to talk to someone who would understand what it was really like. There were some things he didn’t want to share with his family members.
“As soon as our Veteran volunteer arrived, the two elderly gentleman sat, face to face, and mouth to ear. They were both very hard of hearing,” McCurdy said. “But for the next couple of hours, they shared their experiences at the Battle of the Bulge. They figured out that they were only a few hundred feet apart in the fox holes during the long days of that battle. They recalled the sounds, the smells, and the fear of that time. They both cried.”
A few years later, at his own funeral, the Veteran volunteer’s family played a video of him recalling that experience. “In the video, he explained how that experience was one of the most healing experiences of his life,” McCurdy said. “This was the event that really put us on the road to emphasizing Vet-to-Vet support.”
Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare also honors Veteran patients when they pass at the Stanley C. and Flo K. Gault Inpatient Pavilion. When the patient who was a military Veteran leaves the inpatient pavilion, taps is played, and a Unites States flag is draped over them.
“This is only done for our Veteran patients,” McCurdy said. “It is an honor and privilege to serve each Veteran patient and their families. Each and every one of our Veteran patients deserve the highest respect, honor and care commensurate with their sacrifice of time and talent while in uniform.”
Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare, a not-for-profit organization established in 1982, is an affiliate of Ohio’s Hospice that serves communities in Wayne, Holmes, Ashland and Medina counties. It embodies the spirit of neighbors caring for neighbors with a commitment to relieve suffering, ease fears, and provide companionship along life’s last journey. Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare addresses patient and family needs wherever the patient calls home. Services also include access to the Stanley C. and Flo K. Gault Inpatient Pavilion, providing short-term patient care to manage acute symptoms, adjust medications, or stabilize patient condition.