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We Honor Veterans – Independence Day and Every Day

It’s an honor and a privilege to be asked to care for veterans — an honor that we at Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care take very seriously. For many years we have been part of the We Honor Veterans program. This involves recognition to veterans in our care. Plus, we train our staff on issues unique to veterans nearing the end of life. Veterans of each era, especially those who served in combat, face their own unique challenges.

As Independence Day nears, we want to share a few of their stories.

We Honor VeteransWWII Veteran

Sgt. Jay Wooldridge has a deep love for this country. He served during the tail end of WWII and witnessed the horrors of prisoners starved to the point of walking skeletons. He could not give the POWs any food due to their emaciated condition. It would almost ensure their death.

His true character shines brightest when he took a trip back to Europe 30 years after the war. He and his wife stayed at a bed-and-breakfast and they listened to a couple next to them at breakfast. The man spoke both German and English fluently. He asked the man how he learned English so well. “I learned English at the prison camp in Houston that I was in for three years.”

Seeking to shelter her husband from any potential trauma from the war Jay’s wife recommended that they move to a different b&b. Jay responded, “The war is over, there is no need to move.” How many private wars are people fighting inside themselves that are over, but for some reason still choose to stoke the fires of the past. Clearly Jay was more interested in living life among friends than hanging on to enemies from the past. 

Jay’s family and pastor were present during the Veterans Recognition Service provided by Kansas City Hospice. There was not a dry eye in the living room as we shared our deep appreciation for his service and honored him with a medal, certificate and lapel pin. He was very grateful for the ceremony, but never expected anything. In his mind his service was just what you do when you love your country and care about freedom for all. 

We Honor VeteransMany Veterans are Female

We honored Women’s Army Corps veteran Ms. Alice Harris on January 24th at the Vineyard Neighborhood Community Center. Ms. Harris served our country at the former Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt, Germany. She served in 1956 for a 21-month tour of duty. She processed air flight requisitions for this important airlift site for United States personnel arriving in or leaving Europe. 

The Women’s Army Corps was the women’s branch of the United States Army and provided critical support for our troops around the world. They trained as nurses, switchboard operators, air traffic controllers, mechanics, postal clerks, drivers, stenographers, and even armorers – maintaining and repairing small arms and heavy weapons. African American women made up 5% of the Women’s Army Corps, serving stateside as well as in Germany, Russia, England, and Japan. The U.S. integrated all units and disbanded the Women’s Army Corps in 1978.
 
Ms. Harris’ family and her many friends attended the service, who expressed gratitude to her for her service. The event included luncheon and cake reception. We are grateful for Ms. Harris, and all the men and women who have courageously and faithfully served our country to protect the freedoms we enjoy. 

We Honor Veterans

Vietnam Veteran

Vietnam Veteran Coffman was already planning to have a military service upon his death. We explained that we wanted to honor him now. He told our chaplain that he had been anything but honored when he returned. Chaplain Mark Fenton told him that he deserved better than that. “While I could not undo the past, we would make a good effort to give him the honor he deserves now,” said Fenton. He consented to the service somewhat reluctantly.

We began the recognition service with emphasizing the importance of thanking those who defend our freedom. A nurse read a poem “A Soldiers Sacrifice,”  followed by “Freedom isn’t Free,” read by Mr. Coffman’s son. We played “God Bless the USA.”  Mark Fenton continued, “As I watched this brave soldier’s eyes during the song I saw them gaze into a dangerous and foreign land that I have never seen. I saw the projector turn on in his brain and play a movie that no man should ever see. His eyes were so riveted. We knew this was a soldier who completed his mission.” Was this a fierce battle in a jungle in Southeast Asia or a more savage battle on American soil upon return by his own countrymen?

We lit a candle and gave a moment of silence given for those who paid the ultimate price. Then, we reviewed the history of Vietnam and its real cost. After, the chaplain stopped to regain his own composure. Fenton knew what needed to come next. It needed to be from his heart and not a script. “As an American, I am speaking for many other like minded citizens who are ashamed of the way you were treated upon returning from serving our country.” “Thank you,” he said. “I’d go back and do it again.”

Interested in helping veterans?

You can join We Honor Veterans! Some of our needs include:

Vet to Vet volunteers – sometimes a vet just needs to talk to someone who understands and empathize. Contact Volunteer Services at 816.363.2600 or email volunteer@KCHospice.org.

Baking Brigade – volunteers make cakes and other treats for veteran recognition ceremonies.

Patriotic quilts – we have a number of volunteer quilters who make patriotic quilts for our vets. Plus, you can donate quilting supplies and fabric to help. Contact Volunteer Services at 816.363.2600 or email volunteer@KCHospice.org.

Grants and donations – community support gives us more options in helping vets and their families. Contact Kiran Chandra if you’d like to help! kchandra@KCHospice.org or 816.276.2741.

Or DONATE NOW. Just put We Honor Veterans in the field for “In Honor of…”

 
The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. And, our vision is each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

One Comment on “We Honor Veterans – Independence Day and Every Day”

  1. Jean Slack Says:

    Very heartfelt! It made me tear up!

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