Recognizing the Heroes Among Us
Posted by Karen Short
November is my favorite month. Not just because of the leftover Halloween candy, my birthday and Thanksgiving, although they are a part of it! November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and on November 11 we observe Veterans Day. This is a beautiful thing to me as it combines two of my passions.
As the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran and the sister of an Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran, I have great respect for our military, active and retired. As a Hospice and Palliative Care Social Worker for nearly six years, I have an understanding of how the military experiences of our veterans can resurface as they near the end of life. At JourneyCare, we are recognized by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) as a partner in the We Honor Veterans program, which makes it an ideal place for me to work.
These two passions led me to VetsRoll. VetsRoll is a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide closure, gratitude and respect to America’s Veterans and “Rosie-the Riveters” by transporting them to Washington D.C., at no cost, to see their memorials. I have been blessed and honored the last three years to join American heroes on this trip as an Assistant. Ten Badger Buses leave Beloit, Wisconsin, on the Sunday prior to Memorial Day weekend and return to a spectacular homecoming on Wednesday night.
During this trip we get to see lots of amazing things such as the National Air and Space Museum; the WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials; the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima); the Lincoln Memorial; and Arlington National Cemetery. Many of the men and women who have served our country have never had the opportunity to see their monuments prior to this trip. As an assistant, I help the veterans on my bus to ensure that they have a memorable trip. This can consist of helping them on and off the bus, pushing a wheelchair, making sure that they have plenty of snacks and drinks — and there is NO shortage of snacks on the bus. Most importantly I get to listen to those that wish to share their experiences and help them find peace and comfort with their “band of brothers”.
Watching these veterans receive honor and respect at the stops along the way is heartwarming in a way that I can't truly put into words. The importance of veterans finding peace and comfort cannot be underestimated.
The veterans are always so thankful for our assistance on the trip. But I feel like I get so much more out of this experience than what I put into it. Words cannot describe the experience or the emotions that go along with it
For information about VetsRoll visit VetsRoll.org.