Compass Regional Hospice partners with ‘We Honor Veterans’
CENTREVILLE — Frank E. Benjamin of Galena was honored recently by Compass Regional Hospice for his military service with the United States Army.
Serving during the Vietnam War-era, Benjamin served his country as a teletype mechanic. He said he served both stateside and in Paris, France, when NATO Headquarters was stationed there before moving to Brussels, Belgium. Benjamin said he served in the Army for 12 years.
Benjamin eventually moved to Galena with his wife, Suzanne, following his service with the U.S. Army. He and his wife have been married for 46 years. He has four children and seven grandchildren, he said.
Compass Regional Hospice is a national partner of “We Honor Veterans,” a campaign developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Through the “We Honor Veterans” program, Compass Regional Hospice gratefully acknowledges its military and service men, women and families. The mission of the program is to serve the nation’s veterans, who have served their country so selflessly, during their end-of-life journey.
Compass honors all hospice patients who have served in the military with a special ceremony. Each honoree is presented with a pin, framed certificate, tabletop flag and a patriotic lap quilt made by volunteers.
For veterans admitted to the Hospice Center in Centreville or the Hospice Center in Chestertown, an American flag and the flag of the veteran’s branch of the service are posted on either side of the door to the patient’s room.
Additionally, trained Compass staff and volunteers provide veterans and their families with local resources surrounding veteran endof-life experiences, benefits and other ongoing projects to recognize the dedication of these heroes.
“Many of our veterans were not appropriately thanked for their service and dedication to our country, regardless of their level of involvement,” said Courtney Williams, manager of volunteer and professional services, Compass Regional Hospice.
“Even if it is the first time they have heard someone say, ‘thank you,’ it is important to everyone in our organization that we take the time to honor their service,” Williams said.
Compass Regional Hospice enrolled in the program in 2012. In 2017, Compass was awarded the “We Honor Veterans” Level Four partner distinction — the highest level an organization can reach.
To achieve this distinction, a hospice provider must offer ongoing veteran-centric education for staff and volunteers, build organizational capacity to provide quality care for veterans, and develop and strengthen relationships with VA medical centers and other veteran organizations.
“Our vets are a special population of our patients that require specialized care due to the experiences they have had in the military,” Williams said. “Through this program, we have reached Level Four by continuing to improve the care we provide to veterans and partnering with our community to ensure they receive the care they deserve.”
As a veteran-centric organization, Compass Regional Hospice also provides a Vet-to-Vet program, which aims to pair veteran volunteers with veteran hospice patients. These hospicetrained volunteers, with personal military experience, have the unique ability to relate and connect with veteran patients and their families.
“Having volunteers with personal experience in the armed forces helps them to relate on a different level with our veteran patients. We are fortunate to be able to offer Vet-to-Vet volunteers to the patients we serve, so they have the opportunity of camaraderie,” Williams said.
In May, Alvin Abend of Chestertown, a retired sergeant with the United States Air Force, was honored during a Veterans Recognition Ceremony at Compass Regional Hospice.
Abend joined the Air Force in January 1964, eventually serving as a helicopter mechanic during the Vietnam War. Already a member of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in Texas, he recalled the day he went to volunteer to serve in Vietnam.
“We went to go volunteer (to serve in the Vietnam War), and the guy said, ‘What’s your name?’ And I told him. (The officer said,) ‘You don’t have to volunteer. Your number’s up,” Abend recalled, saying his number was about to be called because of the draft, which was being employed by the federal government of the United States at the time to fill vacancies that were not able to be filled by voluntary means.
Once overseas, Abend was stationed in Udorn, Thailand, and was part of helicopter rescue missions for stranded U.S. troops along the Ho Chi Minh trail, a logistical system of mountain and jungle paths that ran through the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam and through Laos and Cambodia. The trail was controlled by North Vietnam, and the Viet Cong used the trail to infiltrate troops and supplies on their way to South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
“If they were blowing up the trail and (U.S. troops) got hurt, then we would try to get (our men out),” Abend said. “The idea was to get them out and (we) were quite successful, actually.”
Abend’s four-year service ended December 1967, and he returned home to Maryland, where he worked as a firefighter and ambulance driver for the City of Bowie. He also has worked in construction and drove tractortrailers, hauling gasoline.
Originally from Gambrills, Abend moved to Kent County with his wife, Margaret Founds.
“Our involvement in the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program has been so meaningful,” said Heather Guerieri, executive director, Compass Regional Hospice. “We have been told by our veteran patients and their families many times that we are the first people that have ever recognized their service and honored them,”
“The recognition ceremony is very touching — to be able to honor our veteran patients before they pass and to give them the recognition they deserve,” Guerieri said.
To learn more about the “We Honor Veterans” program with Compass Regional Hospice or to volunteer with the Vet-to-Vet program through the organization, contact Williams at 443-2624112 or [email protected]pass regionalhospice.org, or visit compassregionalhospice. org/volunteers.
Compass Regional Hospice had the opportunity to honor veteran Quentin Cupp, right, for his service with the U.S. Navy. His ceremony was attended by a special guest, his grandson, left, who also served with the U.S. Navy.
Alvin Abend of Chestertown, a retired sergeant with the United States Air Force, served during the Vietnam War as a helicopter mechanic. He was part of the helicopter crew sent during rescue missions along the Ho Chi Minh trail. He was honored for his military service during a Veterans Recognition Ceremony at Compass Regional Hospice in May.
From left, clockwise: Cathy Willis, nurse case manager, Compass Regional Hospice; Shakeara Jones, social worker, Compass Regional Hospice; Sharon Loving, Support Services supervisor, Compass Regional Hospice; and Frank E. Benjamin, veteran of the United States Army.
From left: Dr. Wayne Benjamin of Chestertown, Frank E. Benjamin of Galena and Mr. Barry Benjamin of Pittsboro, N.C. Frank Benjamin’s brothers and other members of his family were able to attend his October Veteran Recognition Ceremony, where he was honored for his many years of service with the U.S. Army.