I check several news feeds every morning, and came across this story about a veteran who volunteers his time at local hospices to ensure that dying veterans of long forgotten conflicts have a friend by their side during their last moments on earth. An incredible mission to say the least.
So many people I come into contact with ask how they can help out the veteran community, well here you go, and all it requires is your time, and compassion.
Excerpt, and link to the original story below. Let me know what you think.
Veteran on quest to ensure old soldiers don’t die alone
By: Andrea Signor
For the past 25 years, Ottomeyer has volunteered in hospice centers in Michigan (where he has lived in Ann Arbor since 2007), North Carolina and Idaho. Every week he encounters the sick and the dying, all of them military veterans.
“I don’t think any veteran should die alone,” he said.
Nationwide, veterans of World War II are dying at a high rate — over 600 per day, according to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Ottomeyer said he’s now starting to see Vietnam-era vets in hospice.
Ottomeyer fears many are dying alone. He hopes younger veterans will volunteer to support the older generation.
Stories of Heroism
Over the years, he has heard some amazing stories.
“One fellow was standing in line at the naval recruiting station and a recruiter came out and asks if any of them has ever flown … He raised his hand and said that he flew a crop duster and the recruiter said, ‘Now you’re a fighter pilot.’
“He fought in the Battle of Midway off of a carrier. He said there were 45 planes that left on his wing and only two of them came back.”
Another World War II veteran told Ottomeyer the story of how his commanding general died in his arms in the Philippines.
“He just had tears running down his face as he’s telling the story,” Ottomeyer said. “This happened 60, 70 years ago.”
A Korean War veteran recalled the freezing temperatures he experienced on the battlefield.
“He remembered the bitter cold and how they had to urinate on their rifle to get it to work,” Ottomeyer said.
Ned, a Marine, regaled Ottomeyer with the story of how he had to persuade his first sergeant and company commander to allow him to fight after they learned he was just 16 years old.
“They were going out to Guadalcanal,” Ottomeyer said. “He started crying to the first sergeant, ‘Please let me go.’”
Ottomeyer said Ned’s first sergeant and commander “lost” his paperwork so the young private could fight.
“I think he actually got the Silver Star,” he said. “It was a different time. People felt like it was their duty. Just because you were 16 doesn’t mean you didn’t have a duty.”
Read the rest here.