I have been a volunteer with Niagara Hospice for about six years. I am a Vietnam-era Army Veteran who has chosen to visit with other Niagara County Veterans who are under the care of Niagara Hospice. I have had some wonderful and personal experiences that have been very emotional and heart-warming.
One time I visited a Veteran patient who was George Patton’s painter. He said General Patton had to have everything painted white, and that a white picket fence had to be around everywhere he stayed for the night during battle.
When I first meet a Veteran patient, I salute and give them my military serial number, and in return, they salute and give me their military serial number. This is a number you never forget, and it is our bond. One day, I met a Veteran, saluted him and gave him my serial number. In return, he saluted me the best he could and gave me his serial number. His daughter was in the room and she left crying.
The Veteran and I talked for about an hour. When I was ready to leave, I walked into the kitchen of the house and his daughter was there, still crying. I asked if I did anything wrong, and she said, “No, but what was that number you said to him?” I explained to her that it was my serial number, and he in return gave me his number. She said, “He hasn’t talked to anyone for two months and you come in the house and he gives you some number and you talk like long-lost friends.”
I happened to be with him and his family just before he died. I was talking to him and he said, “Paul, I wish I would have met you 40 years ago,” then he passed. It is experiences like this one that keep me coming back to Niagara Hospice to visit Veterans who have made this country what it is today. God Bless America and all of its Veterans.