The Gift of Veteran Volunteers

Early last summer, two gentlemen had a special conversation about an important last wish. “All I want to do is go to the Naval Aviation Museum. Then I’ll never have to leave my home again,” Randy Barbour told Jim Kirby. Randy is an Army Veteran and Covenant Hospice patient and Jim is a Navy Veteran and Covenant Hospice Volunteer. And voicing that wish was all that was needed.

 Within a month of that conversation, Randy was at the renowned museum and received a special two-hour tour from Vice Admiral Gerald Hoewing. He was also given a medallion commemorating the 2012 opening of the National Flight Academy and a book detailing the history of the museum. It was a special day and, as Randy’s handwritten note later expressed, the tour was an experience he will cherish forever. Jim was the catalyst that made it happen.

For John Christy, a Navy Veteran and Covenant Hospice patient, it was camaraderie that was missing from his life. He had served his country as a chaplain and, after his retirement, was an active member of his church and its choir. Covenant asked Veteran volunteer, Ray Wann, to provide John with the support he needed. (Ray was also a chaplain and the two had attended the same church for years.)

As time went on, Ray noticed how John had become more and more withdrawn, as he was now largely confined to his home, so he planned a special ceremony for John and invited several of John’s friends. Because music was so important to John, Ray also invited Covenent’s music coordinator who played some of John’s favorite patriotic music and spiritual hymns. It was a poignant way to honor John for his many years of service as well as a time of fellowship.

Veterans have made many sacrifices that undeniably leave a lasting impact on their lives years after they have taken off the uniform. While Covenant Hospice’s staff are taught the special needs of Veterans through trainings and our close work with the Department of Veterans Affairs and local Veteran Service Organizations, our Veteran volunteers can be our best teachers. They make an invaluable contribution in the care we provide to our nation’s finest at the end of life.

 

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