Com­pass Re­gional Hos­pice part­ners with ‘We Honor Vet­er­ans’

Sunday Star - - MID-SHORE CALENDAR -

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.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

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.

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