Carroll Hospice hosted its annual We Honor Veterans Breakfast today to pay tribute to veterans who served in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Sponsored by Koons Toyota Westminster, the event welcomed veterans and their guests to enjoy a free breakfast, hear experiences from veteran speakers and more.
“You are really, truly our heroes,” said Del. Susan Krebs, chair of the Carroll Hospice Board of Trustees and emcee of the event as she acknowledged the veterans in attendance.
Krebs also stressed the value of younger generations realizing our veterans’ contributions to our nation. “It’s so important in this day and age that our youth understand, respect and value the military that protects our great nation,” she said. “Less than 1 percent of people wear the uniform anymore, and I think sometimes we’ve got to remind them that the freedoms we enjoy today are because of the sacrifices of our veterans.”
Veterans Day should not be a solemn occasion, said Carroll County Commissioner Ed Rothstein, the event’s keynote who retired as a colonel after 31 years in the military. “This is an opportunity to be uplifted and to thank those veterans, to thank those service members and, at the same time, really show appreciation to those who did give the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
“It is an opportunity to recognize those traits, those values: the loyalty, the honor, the duty, the respect, the personal courage, the selfless sacrifices that we made. That’s what Veterans Day is about,” said Rothstein.
Four Carroll Hospice We Honor Veterans volunteers shared their experiences with the audience.
“For some veterans, this is the first time that they have been properly thanked for their service,” says Gary Saylor, a U.S. Army veteran. “For others, it may be a sense of final closure and a way to ease their journey. … Let us remember it’s never too late to pay tribute to the men and women who answer the call to duty.”
When people learn that Bill Palm volunteers with Carroll Hospice, they often comment that it must be tough being with individuals at the end of their lives. He doesn’t think that’s the case. “I think there’s something satisfying in providing the support and comfort and the respect to people as they enter their final days,” says Palm, a U.S. Army veteran.
U.S. Army veteran volunteer Tom Rio said that many veterans, especially older ones, don’t talk about their time in the service to their families. Once patients realize they are talking with a fellow veteran, they open up to him about their experiences. “And sometimes, even some veterans you thought were sound asleep or not responsive anymore, they start to respond to you because they’re talking to another veteran,” he said.
“It’s really a privilege to be with people at that time in their life,” Rio said. “Hospice has been a gift for me to be able to be in people’s lives at that time. I’m very grateful for it.”
U.S. Marine Corps veteran volunteer Alison Malachowski said that her friends don’t understand her hospice volunteer work. “But being a veteran hospice volunteer means being there for my brother and sister at the end of their life,” she said.
“After we serve our country, especially those of you who have experienced war, we learn to distract ourselves from those experiences, pushing them aside as we live out our daily lives,” Malachowski said. “Then, in the end, years later, we realize that those experiences never really went away. The sense of duty, honor and commitment don’t end with the separation of active or reserve service. It becomes entrenched and a part of who we are and touches all aspects of our lives.”