Randy Kanouse has been a Joshua’s House Hospice Board member and supporter ever since meeting our Executive Director, Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater in 2018. Says Randy, “I met Marlene when she made a presentation to the UC Davis Hospice volunteers about Joshua’s House Hospice. I was moved by her presentation, and I wanted to get involved.” He’d already been involved in hospice and had been volunteering at the UC Davis Medical Center since 2012.
It was actually 9 years ago this month, that UC Davis began their program to honor veterans for their service, while they are in hospice. Prior to that time, there were no special efforts to recognize these veterans. Randy was asked to create the program because as a young man he had served 4 years in the US Air Force. He was given the responsibility of designing the program as a way to honor and give back to veterans. The program that Randy designed is also a part of the “We Honor Veterans” program, a national organization that addresses the unique needs of America’s veterans, their families, and community organizations. The program invites hospices, state hospice organizations, hospice-veteran partnerships, and VA facilities to participate while focusing on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgement of veterans.
Remarks Randy, “I became a hospice volunteer 8 years prior to my involvement with this program. My father had received hospice care in his final months of life. Hospice did such a wonderful job for him, and our family, that I resolved to ‘pay it forward’ some day. When I retired from my career, I signed up immediately to become a hospice volunteer.” Pictured right are some of the ceremonies & presentations to veterans and their families, that Randy has participated in.
When Joshua’s House Hospice Village opens, we plan to partner with Randy and UC Davis to extend this same kind of veteran recognition to those who are in our care. As far as we are concerned, it’s the least we can do for these brave individuals.
Heartfelt words from Randy, “Over my years of honoring veterans, I’ve learned that Vietnam Vets have had the toughest go of it. When they returned, they were often scorned and treated as though they started the war. They’ve lived with that trepidation and discomfort about their service for more than 40 years. When we honor these men and women on hospice for their service, they are so moved. They cry and they are overwhelmed with emotion. They often tell me this is the first time since they left the service that someone from the government has thanked them for their service. It’s such a special moment to give them a sense of pride and self-respect about their military service before they pass away. I’ve read that an extraordinary percentage of homeless vets are Vietnam Vets. We need to help them feel better about their service to our Nation before they pass on.”
Thank you, Randy. We so look forward to working with you to honor veterans at Joshua’s House Hospice Village! Stay tuned for more information on our progress and subscribe to our twice monthly newsletter HERE for regular updates.