Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Veterans Bond Over Coffee and Conversation

December 7, 2016 marked the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a day to honor and remember, many organizations and We Honor Veterans partners held events to pay tribute to all Veterans, particularly those who served in WWII. I was lucky enough to attend a special event held in Welcome, North Carolina by We Honor Veterans Level 3 partner Hospice & Palliative CareCenter.

Many partners hold coffee events in their community as a way to bring Veterans together to share stories, giving them an extremely rare outlet. As a special commemoration event, Hospice and Palliative CareCenter organized an event of epic proportions. It was held at the Richard Childress Racing Museum and over 700 people were in attendance, including about 500 Veterans. What made the biggest impression was not the turnout, community collaboration or volunteers running around ensuring everyone had a seat and was taken care of – it was the comradery and the friendships that have come out of something as simple as getting together for a cup of coffee. 

I met a gentleman who was held as a POW for over a year during WWII. It came as no surprise that he became humbled when I thanked him for his service, saying he was surprised that so many people were interested in his story while adjusting the Purple Heart hanging around his neck. He shared that while he still has flashbacks and may never be able to find forgiveness, this past year has been his hardest by far. He lost his wife of 74 years and said that living without her is the toughest thing he’s ever had to endure, adding that he didn’t know if he would make it past Christmas. As tears started falling a few of his buddies within earshot immediately joined our conversation, offering support that could only come from a fellow Veteran. They insisted that the “lonely boys” be with each other at Christmas, one (half-jokingly) adding that he had to be alive for the next Veterans Coffee in January as they would be riding together.

These community events and activities only happen because of the loving service and dedication of our We Honor Veterans partners. Ann Gauthreaux of Hospice & Palliative CareCenter and Rowan Hospice & Palliative Care is one of the forces behind this partner program and nicely summed up the importance of their program activities:

“To say our Veteran Coffees are well attended and heartwarming would be an understatement. They have become a part of life for our region’s veterans. A place to share stories, find common ground, and enjoy comradery. The expression; ‘If you build it – they will come’ has never seemed more appropriate. We make sure they know about our programs and services, yet it’s so much more. The coffees are a melting pot for all veterans and things related to veterans!”

To learn more about the We Honor Veterans program, visit www.wehonorveterans.org  or contact us at veterans@nhpco.org.

By Katherine Kemp
Access Manager, NHPCO

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