Shining a Spotlight on Adult Day Program Veterans
There are patriots among us at Catholic Eldercare. They stand proudly for the Pledge of Allegiance, they sing patriotic songs with faces of remembrance, and they support each other.
Currently, 19 out of 42 Adult Day Program participants have served in the military.
“Our veterans are special,” says Adult Day Program Director Roxy Tietz. “And over the past couple years, we’ve had the honor of doubling the number of veteran participants in our program. They’re all heroes.”
Heading into Veteran’s Day, we had the honor of talking with three of these heroes about their service and their love of country.
“Sometimes you’re at sea and sometimes you’re on shore. I was lucky. I didn’t spend much time at sea,” says Navy veteran Robert Burkhart. Stationed at the Marimar Naval Air Station in San Diego, California, Robert worked in Navy personnel. “I made sure service records, the travel sailors did from station to station, and reenlistment papers were in order.”
Robert says that Veteran’s Day sparks good, but also scary memories of his time at sea. He recalls, “I remember a Russian bomber flying over our aircraft, and we didn’t know if it would drop a bomb on us.”
Robert went on to a career as a finance clerk, but still regrets not staying in the Navy. “I wish I would have made a career of it,” he says. “But at the time, I wasn’t’ thinking of it.” Today, Robert is thinking about the rough times we’re experiencing in our country and the hard days ahead, and says, “I’m kinda glad I’m old.” He offers these words of wisdom to young people, “Keep up the spirit and the hope, and do the best you can every day.”
Lisa Huff enlisted in the Airforce just out of high school. She left her family and her family farm in South Dakota, and went to Texas, knowing she would soon be sent to Okinawa, Japan. She says she had to look at a map to see where it was. “I stepped off the plane in Okinawa, and was hit by humidity that I had never experienced before. It shocked me.”
In Okinawa, Lisa worked in telecommunications, conversing with soldiers from base to base, site to site, and person to person — in code.” I often felt alone and had no idea what would happen from day to day,” she explains. “I grew up in the Airforce, and learned to take responsibility for my actions, and those around me. I had to pay attention.”
Lisa says she loved every minute of her military service, and wants young people to consider joining. “I wish they knew about all the positive things that happen in the military, not just the wars that frighten people.” Veteran’s Day is important to Lisa because it puts these things in the spotlight. She says, “Honoring people for their service and sacrifices is important.”
What does Ronald Frank remember from his days in the military? “Doing just about everything,” he says. “And I remember KP (Kitchen Police). None of us liked that.”
Ronald reported for Army basic training in Fort Carson, Colorado. From there, he traveled to Virginia, Illinois, and then on to Vietnam, where he served as an aviation parts specialist. Ronald’s six brothers and his father served in the military. Two other brothers had health issues that held them back. These are the people Ron thinks about on Veteran’s Day, along with those who served alongside him.
A true patriot, Ronald continues to talk about the honor of military service, and he keeps patriotism alive by leading by example, “I’m glad we still respect the service, and I hope that young people do what their heart calls them to do,” Ronald explains. “And if they want to serve their country, they should enlist.”
This year on Veteran’s Day, military veterans throughout Catholic Eldercare received a hand-made quilt through The Mission Project, based in Northeast. The quilts were made by the men of the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Indiana.
Catholic Eldercare salutes all of the veterans living among us, and we say, “Thank you for your service.”