HQA Salutes Veteran Patient McLendon

hospice veteran (400 x 266)At a time when military service members returning from far-away assignments may be receiving applause and home-coming celebrations, many who have served during earlier times may not have received such recognition. For some, this carries disappointment or resentment.

Hospice patient Kenneth McLendon, 59-year-old U.S. Army veteran from MiIlington is one such veteran who served during the Vietnam era and felt he was never thanked or properly recognized for his service. However, under the Hospice of Queen Anne’s We Honor Veterans program, McLendon has recently been honored in a special ceremony of his own for his service to our country.

Hospice of Queen Anne’s is a national partner in the We Honor Veterans program, sponsored by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Under the program, Hospice of Queen Anne’s 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, an American flag and the flag of the veteran’s branch of service are posted on either side of door to the patient’s room. Other components of the We Honor Veterans program include educating hospice staff in recognizing the unique needs of dying veterans, and building collaborative partnerships to better serve veterans.

“Before the Veterans Recognition ceremony, which was in the presence of family members and hospice staff, Mr. McLendon was ambivalent and somewhat bitter about his service experience,” said Sharon Loving, HQA’s supervisor of support services.

McLendon served in Germany and several U.S. locations, concluding his nearly 9-year military career as a chief photographer at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C.

“We were spit upon, made fun of … anything but recognition from the public,” said McLendon.

After the ceremony, McLendon asked his wife to order the medals for his uniform. Although too small to fit him now, the uniform decorated with medals is proudly displayed in a framed box in his room. Also displayed is the certificate, pin and U.S. flag given to McLendon during the ceremony.

“In some cases, Hospice of Queen Anne’s may be providing the last opportunity for a veteran to feel that his or her service was not in vain, and that they are appreciated. This is so important for a more peaceful ending,” said Loving.

HQA has performed Veteran Recognition ceremonies for 18 patients this year. To learn more about the We Honor Veterans program and hospice care, visit www.hospiceofqueenannes.org or call 443-262-4100.

In photo: Kenneth McLendon proudly displays his uniform while seated in the Hospice Center garden.