An Unforgettable Veteran Volunteer Experience - Heart 'n Home Hospice & Palliative Care, LLC

An Unforgettable Veteran Volunteer Experience


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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A Flag for a Veteran

folder_openHonoring Veterans at End of Life
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I recently had a patient pass away and I went to the home to deliver the bereavement packet and provide support to the wife.  While there, we filled out the paperwork so she could get the flag for his services.   This is usually something the funeral home does, but this family chose a body donation service so I was able to help them.  Of course, because of our amazing office staff, I had the forms in the Military Honors Packet and was able to easily access what was needed.  I made arrangements with the family to deliver the flag to them this Wednesday.  Anyway, with the completed form, I went to Connie Tanaka at the Veteran’s service office as he was going to obtain the flag.  Later that day I returned to pick up the flag and found that the flag is delivered in a plain cardboard box and needed to be folded.  Connie says “do you want to help me fold it?”  Of course, my first thought was that I didn’t know how to do this, that I may not be qualified, etc., but presenting it to the family in a cardboard box just was not going to do.  While assisting with folding this flag I was reminded of all of the things I see on Facebook about people burning the flag, not honoring the flag, and most recently, not standing for the flag.  What I experienced and felt was this reverence that was beyond what I have ever felt in my 24 years as a Social Worker.  I felt a HUGE sense of responsibility.  This flag is for someone who was willing to lay their life down for this country, for our freedom … this is a VERY significant deal!  As I took this flag with me, and because I am not delivering it to the family until tomorrow, the weight of what I was carrying was heavy.  I knew I needed to honor it, to take care of it, to make sure that nothing happened to it.  I will continue to hold these thoughts until it is safely delivered to the family of this man who fought for my freedom.

In hospice, we get to have some experiences that shape us, change us, guide us, remind us, inspire us … and this is one of those for me.  I appreciate the experiences I get to have and this one goes in the books as a great reminder of the importance of what we do.

Sharla P., LSW, GC-C
Medical Social Services
Fruitland Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care


folder_openInspiring Stories
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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

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

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