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New FHN Program Serves Vets

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FREEPORT, Ill. — “If it wasn’t for the Navy, I wouldn’t be here,” laughed Deanna Carlson at a recent sunny morning gathering in honor of her father, Howard, a Korean War veteran, Navy man and FHN Hospice patient.

“The Navy played matchmaker for my parents,” Deanna said. Her father met her mother, Irma, while both were serving in the Navy in the late ’50s. More than a half-century later, photos of Howard and Irma in uniform, and photos of Deanna in uniform – she followed family tradition and served in the Navy for 8 years – are passed around as friends and family reminisce.

The occasion for the get-together is a new FHN Hospice program to honor and serve veterans nearing the end of their lives, said FHN Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Sheryl Wolff. Hospice patients who have spent time in the armed forces are honored with a special ceremony during which they receive a pin and certificate honoring and thanking them for their service.

“FHN Hospice is proud to honor the men and women who served their country, and help them make the very best of the time they have left,” Wolff said. “A veteran who has had military or combat experiences may require special care at the end of his or her life. Some veterans may not have shared that part of their lives with family, but want to talk about their experiences now. Others may never have really been thanked for serving their country, and it’s an honor to be able to thank them and show them just how much their service meant.”

The pinning ceremony brought together Howard’s family and friends, his FHN Hospice caring team and area active duty military representatives for a chance to celebrate his life. Air Force Technical Sergeant Mark Chamberland, Staff Sergeant Jon Modler and Airman First Class Dustin Edwards were on hand to present Howard Carlson, his wife Irma and daughter Deanna their pins.

Howard was an “instrument man” in the Navy, maintaining and repairing equipment on board an aircraft carrier and in Korea late in the Korean War. He served for 5 years.

After the ceremony, Howard and his family swapped stories with the Air Force men about basic training and their time in the service, passing around a photo album and choosing from a selection of sweets laid out on the dining room table.

“The ceremony gives everyone a chance to step back from the ‘end-of-life’ mode and enjoy each other’s company,” Wolff said. “It’s a time for laughing and chatting and being happy and proud.”

For more information on FHN Hospice, visit www.fhn.org or call 815-599-7240.

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