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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An Unforgettable Salute From a Veteran

Although I was excited and looking forward to a morning full of recognizing our nation’s heroes, I never imagined the everlasting impact that a seemingly simple gesture would have on me.  When Veteran’s Day arrived, Ed, one of our amazing Emmett Hospice Volunteers (also a Veteran) met myself and Sandie Turner, Volunteer Coordinator/Program Representative at the office so that we could prepare for our deliveries. Our first stop was at our patient, David’s house.  He was on services with us for over a year and had recently experienced a significant decline. During this most recent decline the care team grew especially close to David and his family. Upon our arrival we were told that David was still in bed sleeping and had been for the past couple of days. We contemplated waking him, but after discussing with his family we all decided that David deserved recognition for his service.

Upon entering his room with his family, we found David resting comfortably. Even after David woke he was lethargic and despite his best attempts, had difficulty speaking. I introduced everyone to David and explained our reason for visiting him; to thank him for his invaluable service to our country. At that time, Ed placed David’s card in his hand and Sandie and Gretchen, David’s daughter, assisted him in choosing a patriotic pillowcase that was carefully folded into the shape of the flag. Throughout this time it was difficult to tell if David could comprehend what was going on.  As we prepared to leave Ed thanked David one last time, pulled his hand up to his forehead and saluted David. At that time, it was clear that David knew exactly what was going on and what was to be an unforgettable salute began. David slowly raised his hand to his forehead and returned salute and mouthed, “Thank you.”

Once we were done we said goodbye to David and stepped out of the room with David’s family. We were all silent and there was not a dry eye as we gathered ourselves and stood in the realization of the truly incredible moment we had just had the privilege of witnessing. As we left David’s home to make our next delivery, Ed, Sandie, and I were still in awe.  We recognized the gift we had been given when we thought we were the ones that were giving gifts that day.

Just three days later we learned that David passed away. Upon hearing the news I felt sad, but I also felt grateful that we had the opportunity to thank David for his service to our country and affirm his life one final time. Thank you David, we will never forget you.

-Written By Cherise Wetzel-Burrow, LMSW, Heart ‘n Home Medical Social Services

Military Appreciation Month

Military Appreciation Month: Because “Thank You” Isn’t Enough

At Heart ‘n Home, we take every opportunity – every day, every time – to affirm the lives of Military Veterans. They’ve done everything asked of them in serving our country and we believe it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home. Please join us in celebrating National Military Appreciation Month which honors current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces with six observances. Learn more.

The Heart ‘n Home team recognizes that every Veteran has a unique story and we go to great lengths to serve our Veteran patients. We’ve partnered with the Veterans Administration, We Honor Veterans, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (Heart ‘n Home is Level 4, the highest) and other organizations to provide our Veteran patients and their families with the best end-of-life care available.

With Heart ‘n Home, Veterans are guided toward a more peaceful ending by experts who address their physical, emotional and spiritual needs, especially service-related. We use a Military History Checklist, work with experts in Veteran Benefits and resources, offer Veteran Community Education and Outreach, participate in Veteran’s groups and events and conduct Pinning and Recognition Ceremonies (family members sometimes travel great distances to participate). Finally, we train Veteran-to-Veteran Volunteers. These special team members offer an important outlet for patients who find great comfort and camaraderie when they share their experiences with a fellow Veteran.

Sometimes, saying “Thank you” just doesn’t seem like enough. Take time this month – or any time – to think about the freedoms you enjoy as a US citizen. Then, call or visit a Veteran. Say “Thank you” and tell him or her just what their service means to you. The simple act of affirming a Veteran’s life will affirm yours too!

Learn more about Heart ‘n Home Military Veteran Employees and Honoring Veterans at End of Life.

Thank Our Veterans: Especially at End of Life

It’s Never Too Late to Say ‘Thank You’ to Our Nation’s Veterans: Even at the End of Life
Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care Recognizes and Honors Veterans Every Day, Every Time

Americans across the country celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th, a special day to salute the men and women who have bravely served our country in the military. These fellow Americans have made profound sacrifices in defense of freedom and they deserve our heartfelt thanks and appreciation. Honoring our nation’s Veterans includes supporting them throughout their entire lives, especially at the end.

Heart ‘n Home wants to share its commitment to increase Veterans’ access to compassionate, high-quality hospice and palliative care for those who are facing serious and life-limiting illness.  As part of this commitment, Heart ‘n Home is a part of an innovative program, We Honor Veterans, developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Through We Honor Veterans, we are ensuring that our organization is equipped to address the unique needs of our nation’s Veterans.

It surprises many Americans to learn that every day, 1,800 Veterans die. That’s more than 680,000 Veterans every year – or 25 percent of all the people who die in this country annually.  A generation of World War II and Korean War Veterans are facing end-of-life care decisions now, and they are quickly being followed by younger Vietnam War Veterans, many of whom are confronting serious illnesses at an even earlier age.

The liberty that we, as U.S. citizens, enjoy comes at a price paid by these valiant men and women. Let each of us make sure we do our part to recognize and support them throughout their lives.

If you know a Veteran who is in need of the special care hospice and palliative care brings, please reach out and help them learn more about the services that hospice and palliative care can provide. Contact us today to learn more about the ways we support our nation’s heroes.

To all our nation’s Veterans, thank you.

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