Honoring Vietnam veterans in hospice care

Posted by Jim Claydon

Honoring Vietnam veterans in hospice care
Veteran Volunteer Jim Claydon

As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, JourneyCare’s Veteran Volunteer Advisory Council and the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration invite Vietnam Era Veterans to join us for a special ceremony in recognition of their service and sacrifice for our nation on October 6. The event will feature a special keynote address from Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Allen J. Lynch.

My name is James “Jim” Claydon and I am a Vietnam Navy Seabee veteran. I served in Danang, Phu-Bai and Hue from 1967-1968, and was a Steelworker in support of the Third Marine Engineering Battalion.

My daughter, Dawn, is a Hospice Case Manager with JourneyCare. When asked if she knew any Vietnam vets that would be willing to perform Honor Pinnings, she volunteered me! That’s when it all began.

As a We Honor Veterans partner, JourneyCare provides specialized services to veterans who are facing a life-limiting illness. After meeting with Veterans Program Manager Linda Rockwell and the wonderful JourneyCare staff and volunteers – and learning the mission and purpose of the organization to enrich lives through expert and compassionate care – I joined JourneyCare’s Veteran Volunteers Advisory Council, which engages veteran-centric event planning, training and educational opportunities.

I was especially eager to begin shadowing fellow vets during the We Honor Veterans pinning ceremonies. A pinning ceremony is a quiet, respectful way to honor each veteran patient. The ceremony includes a visit from a Veteran Volunteer who presents the patient and family with a special pin and Certificate of Honor to recognize their service. The patient and family are welcome to share stories to celebrate the veteran’s life and service, and they are deeply meaningful. Since then, I’ve had the privilege to honor many veterans, including a 28-year Navy veteran that served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam! Needless to say, the conversations were very interesting and educational. 

Honoring Vietnam veterans and seeing their reaction to being recognized for their service is an inspiration to me and an incentive to carry on. As most people of that era know, we Vietnam veterans did not receive a welcome return from the combat and sacrifices we endured, and many vets would not even admit their Vietnam service. It is an honor for me to offer that long overdue “Thank you for your service” by presenting an official pin and certificate of thanks. Some attending family members never had knowledge of their loved one’s duties, and I believe confiding in a fellow veteran helps provide our veteran patients with closure.

To learn more about JourneyCare’s We Honor Veterans and all the special ways this program helps veteran patients and their families throughout the year, visit journeycare.org/we-honor-veterans.

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