There is something humbling about the experience. As a volunteer Veteran honoring a fellow-serviceman or servicewoman who is facing death, Larry Blackmore says he is aware that, for the patient being honored, this may be a final life event. “We may be the last group this Veteran has contact with. Patients and families know we are very sincere in thanking and honoring Veterans. These ceremonies offer a sense of closure to us all.”
Larry, pictured center above, is a Vietnam era Air Force Veteran. Enlisting just after his college graduation in 1968, Larry became a member of a security police squadron and served a year in Southeast Asia, logging time back and forth between Thailand and Vietnam. His involvement with Ohio’s Honor Flight and Ohio’s Hospice of Miami County’s American Pride Program is a source of great satisfaction and reward.
Honor Flight Dayton is a program that originated in Ohio enabling Veterans to visit the war memorials in Washington D.C. at no charge. “I was able to bring some of the elements we used in Honor Flight Dayton to our American Pride ceremonies honoring Veterans,” Larry explains. “We include a ‘mail call.’ At every pinning ceremony, I share cards and letters of appreciation and read them to the hospice Veteran. You can tell, even if they are unable to physically respond, the Veteran knows we are there when we call them by name or rank. They react to the military-to-military greeting. That reaction has the most impact on me.”
Larry has also found a new group of brothers through Veteran-to-Veteran outreach. “There are 10 or 12 of us who try to participate in American Pride Veteran pinnings together. Some are Veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq/Afghanistan. We really respect each other and are all very serious about the honor services. We all understand how important this is to patients and families. It is meaningful to us that we share these moments as a group.”
You can find more information about the American Pride Program here.