Every Friday afternoon, Gerry Hope, a long-time Hosparus volunteer, visits Richard Vessels, one of our patients. The two have a special relationship, the Navy World War II sailor and the Vietnam soldier, share stories of combat, the heart break of conflict and the gratitude they feel for the service men and women who have paid the ultimate price for our country.
Both men agree that sharing their experiences helps. Richard says, “When I returned from the war, I didn’t talk about it at all. I’d been wounded, fought in many battles and saw men fighting beside me die in an instant.”
My doctor told me to start talking, he adds. Richard, a two-time Purple Heart recipient, spent years talking to schools, businesses and civic groups about his wartime experience. “I enlisted in the Navy right after Pearl Harbor. My parents had to go with me to sign up because I was only 16 years old. I saw things no one should see but I am proud that I served.”
Gerry notes, “Sharing with others also keeps the memory of fallen soldiers alive. I’ve been to the Vietnam Memorial several times and I know some of the names on that wall – they are real people who left families and loved ones behind.”
Gerry adds, “Spending time with Hosparus patients who are veterans is such an honor to me. I love to hear their stories and have the utmost respect for those who have put their lives on the line for freedom.”
Of his Hosparus experience, Richard says he already knew about our organization because we cared for his beloved wife of 64 years before her death. “When I ‘got old,’ I called Hosparus,” he quips.
The 90-year-old enjoys visits with his Hosparus nurse who helps him with his medication and he appreciates that those medications are delivered to his home,” he adds.
Finally, he treasures time with his friend and fellow service man, Gerry.
Hosparus recognized as a We Honor Veterans Partner
It may surprise many to learn that 25 percent of those who die every year in the United States are veterans. To help provide care and support that reflects the important contributions made by these men and women, Hosparus recently became a national partner of We Honor Veterans, a pioneering campaign developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
As a We Honor Veterans partner, Hosparus will implement ongoing veteran-centered education for its staff and volunteers to help improve the care they provide to the veterans they proudly serve. The We Honor Veterans campaign provides tiered recognition to organizations that demonstrate a systematic commitment to improving care for veterans. Partners can assess their ability to serve veterans and, using resources provided as part of the campaign, integrate best practices for providing end-of-life care to veterans into their organization.