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Three veterans share their stories at Valley Hospice

October 20, 2011
Times Leader

Veterans from Three Wars Share Their Stories At Valley Hospice's "A Salute to Heroes" Seminar

Three local military veterans representing World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, presented poignant insights into their wartime experiences when they participated in a training session for Valley Hospice staff in September.

Valley Hospice is a national partner in the We Honor Veterans program which was developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help provide care and support to the men and women who have served in the military and who suffer life-limiting illnesses, and at the end-of-life. Locally, Valley Hospice has dubbed its program "A Hero's Salute," notes Andrea Stoll, vice-president of access.

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Photo Provided
Three veterans of three wars shared their stories with Valley Hospice staff as part of the national “We Honor Veterans” initiative. From left, are Dave Schoenian of Glen Dale, W.Va.; Fred McGee of Smithfield and Bill Carson of Wheeling.

"As part of the national program, there is a four-tiered education component that we are required to complete to receive our four stars. We have earned our first star and are currently working toward our second. Recently, three area veterans gave us a living history lesson as part of the two-hour seminar," Stoll explained. The final two programs required to earn the second star will be conducted in October and November.

WWII Army veteran Bill Carson of Wheeling, Korean War veteran Fred McGee of Smithfield, and Vietnam veteran Dave Schoenian of Glen Dale, "held us spellbound with their poignant, personal stories of war and the realities of coming home," Stoll said.

The purpose of the program, Stoll notes, is to help hospice staff understand the unique needs, physical and emotional, of patients who are veterans. In addition, she said, the We Honor Veterans program educates the staff, clinical, social workers, aides, volunteers, and others, on how to listen in a different way to veterans and understand their special emotional needs that often have never been expressed.

During the recent program, short history films on WWII, Korea, and Vietnam were viewed prior to hearing from the veterans.

"Each veteran gave us great insights not only into the veteran's experience, but into how they believe we should care for the spouses of veterans, understand and be able to provide information on veterans' benefits, and how to become more equipped to deal with post traumatic stress disorders. These were great tips and will be very helpful as we continue to enhance the care and understanding we provide our patients who are veterans," Stoll said.

At the conclusion of the event, the three veterans were presented with a special "A Hero's Salute" pin to thank them for their service. These pins are presented to all veterans cared for by Valley Hospice.

"Hearing the stories of these brave men brought us a deep appreciation for what they went through and gives us insight that will take our care-giving experience to a new level. Our entire staff believes that it is a privilege to care for these men and women who bravely and unselfishly served America to protect us," Stoll said.

Valley Hospice is seeking area residents who are veterans to become veteran volunteers. If you are interested, contact the volunteer office at 740-859-5650 or 877-HOSPICE.



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