Hospice of Siouxland is giving veterans an opportunity to talk about the difficulties of their duty
LE MARS, Iowa (KTIV) -
A million World War II Veterans survive and they have a million stories to tell about their time in the service.
But many will go to their grave without sharing those experiences.
Now, Hospice of Siouxland is giving veterans an opportunity to talk about the difficulties of their duty.
It's helping them find closure as they face the end of their life.
At 92-years-old, Henry Boden has seen a lot of life.
PFC Henry Boden, Army (Ret.) said, "Lots of things have changed, you know, different times, you know."
And now he's sharing those life lessons with a man forty-years his junior.
Capt. Pat Kenaley, Veteran to Veteran Volunteer said, "Henry's teaching, all the time."
Pat Kenaley signed up to be a Hospice volunteer after he saw how the program helped his mother-in-law at the end of her life.
"The primary purpose of my visits is just to be a companion. Just to talk about normal things, and just to spend time with them," Pat said.
It's also to get Henry talking about his time in combat.
Linda Todd, Hospice of Siouxland Director said, "Sometimes there's stories or experiences that they've never talked about, and they can share that with another veteran and almost identify with each other."
Henry said, "We were after two things, tanks and artillery guns."
Henry served in the Army for four years during World War II. He was stationed in Germany.
Henry said, "We'd ride our tanks from town to town."
Pat said, "They might not remember anything from this week, but they remember very vividly, their military duty."
Pat, an Army and Air Force veteran, also served in Germany, with the 185th.
Pat said, "We saw some of the same cities and the same areas."
But, their service was very different.
Henry said, "I went about six weeks without a hot meal during combat."
Pat said, "I've heard some of these stories, every time, which I don't mind."
Todd said, "When somebody faces end of life, there's a need for personal closure. That's part of trying to achieve peace."
Pairing up service members has proved to be the best medicine for Henry, who suffers from pulmonary disease. Earlier this year his health took a turn for the worse.
Henry said, "One morning I didn't come out, and I had a high fever, and I didn't know nothing. Here I ended up in the hospital."
Pat says his weekly visits have been a boost for him too.
Pat said, "Henry's taught me to be happy about your circumstance, whatever it is. He's always happy. If I have a bad day at work, I come and see Henry, and my day is better."
Veteran to Veteran started about two years ago, through a $30,000 grant from the department of rural health affairs. It's been so successful that hospice of Siouxland has decided to keep it going.
Todd said, "It was for the rural areas when it first started, but obviously we've rolled that out across the organization because we were so committed to it."
Before Veteran to Veteran started, Hospice didn't ask patients if they'd served in the military. Now, they not only ask when and where they served, but also help make sure they're taking full advantage of those benefits. A favorite part of the program is the pining ceremony. The veteran volunteer pins his partner in recognition of their service.
Val Owens Volunteer Director:"It has really proven to be very meaningful for both of them."
Pat's uncertain how long Henry will need him, but hopes he's helped him face the end of life with the same bravery he showed on the battlefield.
Pat said, "Ultimately, you're just grateful that you could help their life be a little bit better."
Henry said, "He visits me, so I got something to do. I'm glad he comes."
Two men from different generations, sharing a common bond.
Hospice of Siouxland holds volunteer training, periodically, throughout the year.
For more information on the click here Veteran to Veteran Program or call Sioux City: (712) 233-4144 or (800) 383-4545, Le Mars: (712) 233-546-4848, South Sioux City, NE (402) 404-8323.
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