September 11, 2001, I was at the Spokane, Washington Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) with dozens of other young men and women attempting to join various branches of the United States Military. When the first planes hit, I was in line waiting for a medical evaluation. Due to the attacks, all federal buildings were shut down and my group was taken back to our hotel prior to swearing in. The next day less than half of us returned to swear in and begin our military service. The 9/11 attacks changed the minds of many people that day, but for those of us who returned the words of Edmund Burke had never been truer, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
I ended up serving in the United States Army as an artilleryman and as an infantryman. I deployed to Iraq from 2004 to 2005, so I know first hand what it means to go to war. One special part of my military service came when I was selected to serve on the Ft. Drum New York Honors Burial Team. For one year, I was able to travel across New England providing burial honors at Veteran’s funerals. To me, it is the highest of honors to get a chance to recognize other Veterans and show appreciation and gratitude for all of the sacrifices these men and women and their families endured.
Today, I still do my best to help honor Veterans. I am thankful to work for a company that places a high priority on Veteran appreciation. My job at Heart ‘n Home is to coordinate the efforts of all our eight offices to meet national criteria for excellence in hospice care for Veterans. Specifically, we ensure that each of our offices shows appreciation, recognition, and provides service education for the Veterans on our services and in our communities. We do this by completing a Pinning Recognition Ceremony and Welcome Home Ceremonies for all of our Veterans, by hosting Veterans Appreciation Cafes at local-long term care facilities, by spending time at Veteran specific education training, and by screening for Veteran specific issues that we can address to help raise the Veteran’s quality of life. We also participate in annual events with our community to support Veterans appreciation movements.
It is important that everyone takes time to honor Veterans as it is the Veteran who has ensured we have a country to live in and we can enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy every day. I encourage you to go out of your way to thank each Veteran that you know or meet. I would suggest that at any point that you encounter a Veteran, you shake their hand, thank them for their service, and let them know that they are a hero.
As one Veteran to another, I say thank you to each and every Veteran and their families for their service and sacrifice on my behalf. I am forever grateful for the service you gave.
Heart ‘n Home Veterans Committee Chair