An Unforgettable Veteran Volunteer Experience

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Russell Traughber, Veteran-to-Veteran Volunteer

What an honor to deliver Heart ‘n Home’s personalized thank you cards to our Vets. I felt so many emotions while expressing thanks to our Veterans. I could write pages. I will never forget this experience.

The WWII Veteran, Mr. S., said to me at about 4:00 p.m. that he thought the “home” would do something for Veteran’s Day, but they didn’t. So Heart ‘n Home hit a home run for him and others, I’m certain. He had served on a hospital ship in the Pacific from 1940 to 1944 as a pharmacy mate. Can you imagine the carnage he must have seen? The number of wounded and dead Marines who fought the Japanese on all of those Pacific Islands? He still remembers. He was so proud of his service that he had to show me his American Legion hat (I was afraid that he was going to fall in his haste to get his hat from the drawer of his bedside table). The four bronze stars on the one ribbon were battle stars!

Anyway, thank you for this opportunity to thank our nation’s Vets. As a Vietnam Era Vet myself, I darn near cried when I opened my card this morning at 5:00 a.m. and saw all the signatures from Heart ‘n Home staff. I volunteer because as a professional administrator who served older persons for 30 years, I know firsthand the loneliness that age and isolation can bring. Providing a small, but very important joy to these Vets was truly a great honor. Thanks again Heart ‘n Home for giving me this great privilege and for my card and flag, too!

My best regards,
Russell Traughber,
Heart ‘n Home Volunteer, Author: Driving The Birds
Shadwell Publishing

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ONE SOLIDER AT A TIME, ONE GRATITUDE AT A TIME

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When I went to visit a Veteran/Patient of Heart ‘n Home one of the first things he told me about was his pinning ceremony from the Heart ‘n Home Veterans Liaison, and he had to take me to his room to show me his certificate.  He got very tearful sharing about the folks who came to honor him and present him with the pin and certificate.  He said “I didn’t think anybody gave a damn.”  It means so much for him to know that someone is thankful for his service and for him in general.

– Heart ‘n Home Spiritual Care Provider

Ceremony for an Idaho WWII Navy Veteran

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Heart ‘n Home Veteran Pinning Ceremony
Payette, Idaho

July was a special month for me; two of my kids’ birthdays, my 20 year wedding anniversary, and I had the privilege of attending a Heart ‘n Home Veteran Pinning Ceremony in Payette.

When Liz (one of our amazing Social Workers at Heart ‘n Home) asked me if I’d like to attend the ceremony, I was filled with excitement.  Being a Veteran myself, I thought this was a great opportunity to honor those who have gone before me and took the same oath I had taken some years ago.  As part of the Public Relations Team here at Heart ‘n Home, I approached Liz about the possibility of bringing my camera with me so I could take a few photographs of the ceremony.  She spoke with Bob, the Veteran, and his family and they agreed it would be great to have us capture this precious occasion.  Originally I was attending to watch, listen, and observe since this was my first Pinning Ceremony; now I was going to do all those things and photograph the event as well.

As the day approached I was getting more excited to be a part of this special occasion and excited for the possibilities as a photographer as well.  A few days prior to the pinning I met a gentleman in our lobby named Jerry, a retired Army Lt. Col.  Come to find out he is a Heart ‘n Home Volunteer and would be presenting the certificate to Bob in his Class A uniform the day of this special event.

Before I knew it Friday was here.  Charlotte, our Volunteer Coordinator, picked me up in front of the office and we headed off to pick up Jerry before making our way to Bob’s house. As we pulled into Jerry’s driveway, he walked towards us in full dress uniform.  As we were driving to Bob’s house, Jerry shared some stories about his military career as well as stories of his time volunteering with us.  We met up with more of our staff as we pulled into Bob’s driveway.  As we made our way into the house, we were greeted by four of Bob’s children and their spouses as well as his precious wife.

After a few minutes of introductions and a couple snapshots we were ready to begin.  Jerry started off by reading a touching military poem to Bob as well as pinning a small American flag to his lapel.  Billy, our Outreach Coach presented him with a framed certificate of appreciation; followed by Liz giving a heartfelt speech to Bob and his family.  As I was taking photographs and listening to what was going on, I felt an overwhelming feeling of joy, acceptance, and sadness all at the same time.  It was a very emotional experience to say the least.  Many tears were shed and many laughs were had.

As Liz finished sharing, Bob decided to share some stories of his own.  He began to share about his experiences serving during WWII and how he came to meet his wife 65 plus years ago.  Bob served in the Navy during WWII and the memories he shared were very descriptive, just as if we were on the ship with him.  He shared many stories that early Friday evening, one of my favorites was of how he and his wife met so many years ago and how they each shared their own version of how they came to be.  What an amazing life they have shared together all these years and the experiences they’ve had the privilege of sharing with one another.  What a pleasure it was for me to take part in such an amazing part of their lives.  The ceremony to honor Bob as a Veteran is such a meaningful part of what we do here at Heart ‘n Home.  Thank you to Heart ‘n Home, Bob, and his family for letting me take part of this very special occasion.

Kevin Bondy,
Audio and Visual Designer

Love Your Freedom? Thank a Veteran!

Love Your Freedom? Thank a Veteran!

“The Veteran in front of you may never have been thanked for their service.” -NHPCO

This November 11th when you wake in the morning, take a moment to be grateful that you live in the “land of the free and home of the brave.” Since virtually the beginning of time, men and women around the world have gone to battle to fight for justice and the right to live as we choose. Love your freedom? Don’t take it for granted. Thank a Veteran.

At Heart ‘n Home, Veterans Day has special meaning. For one thing, a number of our employees and Volunteers are military Veterans, and many of our employees have family members who have served or are serving today.  Our military Veteran patients truly inspire, affirm, and teach us every day, every time. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Heart ‘n Home patients have served every branch of the military.
  • Our patients served in WWII, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, and Middle East.
  • When the Army rejected him for flat feet, one of our patients joined the US Coast Guard “…to do my part.”
  • At least one of our patients witnessed the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima.
  • At least one of our patients worked with the Navajo Code Talkers.
  • At least one of our patients was an Army Nurse during WWII.

And the list goes on. At Heart ‘n Home, we recognize that each Veteran has a unique story and that’s why we partner with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Veterans Administration to honor our Veteran patients with the best Veteran-centric end-of-life care available. As a Level 4 We Honor Veterans participant, our Veteran patients are guided toward a more peaceful ending by experts who address their physical, emotional, and spiritual concerns related to the military service experience. Our employees use a Military History Checklist to understand and treat the unique needs of each Veteran patient. One of our most important events is the Veteran Recognition and Pinning Ceremony, an opportunity for family, friends, and Heart ‘n Home to say “Thank you for your service.” For many Veterans, it’s the only time anyone has ever said it.

This Veterans Day, look for Heart ‘n Home in the Bend and La Grande, Oregon community parades! And, if you’re in La Grande, after the parade stop by the local American Legion Post 43 (301 Fir Street) for spaghetti where several of our employees will be ready to serve you a hot meall! In La Pine, Heart ‘n Home will host a Veteran who will speak to a group of elementary schoolchildren who will then present Heart ‘n Home with hand-drawn pictures (framed with a poem of thanks) to our military Veteran patients. La Pine Heart ‘n Home will also attend “Wreaths for Veterans” at the La Pine Cemetery (16345 Sixth Street) on Veterans Day.

Learn more about how Heart ‘n Home Honors Veterans

 

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