Local program honors veterans in hospice care

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TOLEDO (WTVG) - This Sunday is an important day in America. November 11th is Veterans Day, a time when we remember all those who have served.
Hospice of Northwest Ohio is part of a program that honors veterans.
The program has helped both vets and the volunteers who are part of it.

A small pin is having a big impact at Hospice of Northwest Ohio, "It just makes feel really good. Like I'm doing something worthwhile."

Pins and Certificates are given to vets who are patients of Hospice of Northwest Ohio as part of the We Honor Veterans program, "We pay special tribute to you for your military service to America, and for advancing the universal hope of freedom and liberty for all"

Gary Plettner served in the Marine Corps for four years,"When I came home from Vietnam, I was not exactly received with open arms. That's one of the reasons I do these pinnings."

Gary has been volunteering for several years. He says there's been a big return on his investment with the program, "The vets open up and talk to you about a lot of things they otherwise wouldn't or maybe haven't since they got out of the service. Sometimes they talk about things they may never have talked about before with friends or family."

Ray Schlagheck served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era. He first started talking with vets in hospice care after visiting his sister while she was at hospice, "When the hospice workers were attending to my sister, I would walk the halls. I would look for flags on the doors of vets and then go I would go in and talk to them."

Not long after that, Ray became part of the We Honor Veterans program, "When you meet the vet you ask them if they remember getting off the bus at boot camp and they usually light up. That starts the conversation."

Those conversations can be heartbreaking and heartwarming. Ray remembers one pinning ceremony in particular with a vet who was close to death, "He was a Navy vet, and I said I salute you for your service. He came out of the fetal position to return my salute to him, that's how much it meant to him. It meant a lot to me too."

Gary says the program is truly a two way street for the vets and the volunteers, "I get so much out of my time with the veterans. It is so intriguing to me to hear what those men and women went through years before I was in the service. It is an honor and a privilege to help them."

Every year there are more than 150 pinning ceremonies for veterans who are patients of Hospice of Northwest Ohio. The volunteers meet with veterans at a number of places including the two Hospice of NW Ohio buildings, homes and nursing care facilities.

Hospice of Northwest Ohio is always looking for extra help with the program, and you don't have to be a vet to be part of it.

We've posted a link.