Let Capital Caring Help Tame Your Pain

September is Pain Awareness Month, an annual health observance of nearly two decades standing. That’s no surprise when you consider that nearly 100 million Americans suffer from chronic and/or severe pain. According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 80 percent of patients with advanced-stage cancer have moderate to severe pain that negatively affects their functional status and quality of life.

In fact, pain is part of  many  life-limiting illnesses, and can even be an unintended consequence of treatments. Yet that doesn’t mean you have to live with it.

For more than 26 years, Capital Caring has been a leader in managing pain for those with advanced illness, following clinical protocols to achieve the best outcomes. For example, our comprehensive, interventional approach can help with pain and discomfort  from a range of causes, including cancer and chemotherapy, restlessness from dementia, shortness of breath resulting from COPD, neuropathy, osteoarthritis, and a wide variety of serious life-limiting illness.

And we know that managing pain simply can’t wait. So we work to reduce pain to a manageable 0-2 level on a 10 point scale within the first 48 hours you become a Capital Caring patient.

For patients whose pain can’t be helped in the home, our Center for Pain and Palliative Care is the answer. The only place of its kind in the region, the Center provides patient care at two clinic locations: the Capital Caring Adler Center on the Van Metre Campus in Virginia and on the campus of the District of Columbia’s Sibley Memorial Hospital, affiliated with Johns Hopkins.

Both sites offer the most advanced diagnostic technology for pain management. Combined with our years of clinical expertise, we provide the precision diagnosis and targeted pain intervention critical to the best palliative and end-of-life care. As an example, our C-Arm X-Ray can precisely identify the exact source of pain so that our choice of treatment is also precise—a  superior approach to simply using a general oral or intravenous analgesic/pain reliever.

Specific pain management intervention offered by Capital Caring through our clinic sites includes:

  • Lymphedema therapy (may be needed following cancer treatment)
  • Neurolytic procedures (a type of nerve block)
  • Sympathetic nerve blocks
  • Intrathecal pump therapies (implanted pump that delivers medication directly to the spinal cord)
  • Epidural and major joint injections
  • Injections for axial spine fractures
  • Ascites and pleural effusion management (treats fluid build-up from cancer that may accumulate in the lungs, chest cavity and abdomen)

Leading our clinical team is Michael Byas-Smith, MD, who serves as medical director of the Capital Caring Adler Center and at both sites of the Center for Pain and Palliative Care. Prior to joining Capital Caring, Dr. Byas-Smith spent 22 years at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, serving as the Director of the Winship Cancer Institute Cancer Pain Clinic and teaching.

Beyond treating physical pain, patients may also experience emotional or spiritual pain when facing a life-limiting illness. This, in turn, may affect physical pain. To address these different aspects, Capital Caring treats every unique person holistically, offering many types of counseling — from palliative to pastoral — along with family support.

Being seriously ill does not mean that you must also live with major pain and the distress it can bring. We know that pain relief makes an enormous difference to quality of life for both patients and families as well as one’s feelings of independence.

Our care and support – include managing pain – is designed to help our patients make the most of every single moment they have with loved ones.

How does pain affect you or a loved one? Please contact Capital Caring at 800-869-2163 or contact www.capitalcaring.org, 24 hours a day/7 days a week and let us help.  

New Medical Staff Join Capital Caring in August

Capital Caring is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Shaz Anwar and Dr. Peyman Mamdouhi to its outstanding team of board-certified physicians.

Peyman Mamdouhi D.O. is board certified in Internal Medicine and Nephrology by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
He is a graduate of Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Mamdouhi recently completed a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

After completing an internal medicine residency at East Tennessee State University – Quillen College of Medicine, Dr. Mamdouhi went on to complete a fellowship in nephrology at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Mamdouhi is a member of the American Society of Nephrology. He has presented at numerous conferences on topics ranging from palliative care strategies for patients with chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease, to new treatment strategies for the most common types of kidney disease.

He is fluent in Farsi, and he provides care for patients throughout Loudoun County.

Shaz Anwar, D.O. recently completed a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital as well as an internal medicine residency at LewisGale Hospital Montgomery in Blacksburg, Virginia where he was chief resident from 2017-18.

A graduate of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Anwar is a member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the American Osteopathic Association.

His research interests include improving clinical outcomes in the management of chronic pain.

Dr. Anwar provides care for patients throughout Manassas and Prince William County.


If you or a loved one need help with pain and symptom management associated with cancer, heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s, ALS, HIV/AIDS, neurological diseases, and other serious and chronic progressive conditions, call Capital Caring’s 24-hour care line at (800) 869-2136.

Visit www.capitalcaring.org to learn more about the services we provide to individuals with advanced illness and the support we offer to their families.

Pet Therapy Offers Grieving Children the Comfort They Need

Americans are passionate about our pets. Over 50 percent of U.S. households have at least one pet.  Pets provide companionship and unconditional love often unmatched by human counterparts. Pets can also be an important source of comfort for those facing an advanced illness or grieving the loss of a loved one. This is particularly true for children trying to process the loss of a parent, sibling, or other loved one.

Capital Caring—one of the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit hospices—recognizes that animals are an important part of helping children process grief.  We offer time with specially-trained therapy animals as part of our bereavement programs for children and teens. Therapy dog visits are also part of our Point of Hope Camps. And, as of 2018, we offer pet therapy through Regan’s Caring Zones.

Regan’s Caring Zones are specially-designated pet therapy sessions for children who have lost a parent or sibling. Capital Caring hosts Caring Zones throughout Fredericksburg, VA to provide grieving children a safe space to interact with therapy dogs. The children play games, read books to the dogs and, more than anything, connect with other children who have experienced loss. Bereavement counselors are also present to facilitate conversations with the goal of helping the kids learn how to cope with their grief and express themselves in a healthy way.

Tara Hoit, Director of Children’s Services at Capital Caring, explained that by offering bereavement programs that include pet therapy, Capital Caring finds a way to meet children where they are in their bereavement process. She provided one example of how a therapy dog helped two children who were otherwise unable to express their grief:

“A pair of little girls whose father was killed in a motorcycle accident on his way home didn’t share anything at Point of Hope camp during our sharing circles and other activities designed to encourage them to open up about their grief. But they sobbed into a golden retriever’s fur and told him all about their Daddy. One even asked the dog to tell her Daddy how much she missed him.”

While it’s usually dogs that participate in Capital Caring’s programs, Tara described a special outing from last fall that involved a different type of service animal: “We had a Regan’s Caring Zone at a horse farm where the children groomed, fed and loved on the horses before bravely riding them. It was so amazing to watch!” 

Regan’s Caring Zones were created in loving memory of Regan Bailey.  In 2008, Regan was the victim of a violent crime that cut short her young life. Seeking a way to honor Regan, and her compassion for both people and animals, her sister, Meredith, contacted Capital Caring about supporting bereavement programs that included pet therapy. Through generous donations from Meredith, her family and friends, Capital Caring announced its new pet therapy offerings through “Regan’s Caring Zones” on August 23, 2018 – what would have been Regan’s 37th birthday.

One year later, Capital Caring wishes to thank all those who have honored Regan’s memory through their support of Regan’s Caring Zones. During Regan’s birthday month (August), we ask that you join us in supporting Capital Caring’s pet therapy programs — like Regan’s Caring Zones — that provide meaningful support to grieving children.

Watch this space as we’ll be looking for volunteers, partners and funding as we expand our pet therapy programs. Join us by making a gift of support: www.capitalcaring.org/donate

For more information and how to help, please contact Tara Hoit at thoit@capitalcaring.org or 540-891-1200.



New Medical Staff Join Capital Caring in July

Capital Caring’s medical staff includes board-certified hospice and palliative medicine physicians. Capital Caring medical staff manages pain and symptoms associated with cancer, heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s, ALS, HIV/AIDS, neurological diseases and other serious and chronic progressive conditions.

We recently welcomed the following physicians to our medical staff.

Dr. Adam Knudson is board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is a graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine, he completed residency in Internal Medicine at Loyola University Medical Center, and a fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

Prior to joining Capital Caring, Dr. Knudson worked with UPMC in Pittsburgh, providing palliative care consultation while completing a Master of Science degree in Medical Education. He also worked with Family Hospice of UPMC where he served as a hospice medical director. Dr. Knudson is a member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the American College of Physicians. Dr. Knudson is based in Alexandria, Virginia.


Dr. Heidi Young has more than a decade of experience as a hospice and palliative care physician. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she attended Georgetown University School of Medicine.

She completed an internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago followed by a chief resident year at MacNeal Hospital in Chicago. She returned to Washington, D.C., in 2010 and completed fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine through the National Institute of Health and Capital Caring in 2011. Prior to joining Capital Caring, she served as a general internist and palliative medicine consultant at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as well as the Chief of Palliative Medicine at MedStar Georgetown for five years.  She currently serves as an Associate Professor with the Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Young is based in Arlington, Virginia.

Visit www.capitalcaring.org to learn more about the services we provide to individuals with advanced illness and the support we offer to their families.

He Considered Himself an American: A Vietnam Veteran’s Pursuit of Citizenship

Blog Writer,  Lt. Col. David Benhoff, USMC (ret.), is Director of Capital Caring’s Veterans Affairs Program

Vietnam Veteran.  Army Ranger.  Tunnel Rat.

Three Bronze Stars.  Vietnam Gallantry Cross.

Severe PTSD.

He considered himself an American, but his country did not.

Werner Trei, an American hero, had one final wish before his Final Deployment.  American Citizenship.

In his own words, “It would mean the world to me.”


Wow.  Think about that.  I mean really think about that.  Quite literally, his final wish.  I fear that many of the younger generation in our country couldn’t begin to come close to appreciating this.  But I digress.

Hopefully I’ve captured your attention with that somewhat less-than-conventional lead and you’ll indulge me in a little background—and update.

Werner Trei, now 71 and in ill health, was a German immigrant at the age of 2.  So if I’ve done my math correctly, (hopefully I paid close enough attention in “Math for Marines”) that means he left Germany around 1950.  Only five years after the end of WWII.  If anyone would have an understanding of freedom and appreciation for freedom, it would likely be someone whose family came from a country just freed from the devastation of a fascist government.

Perhaps this is why, upon receiving his draft notice after graduation from high school here in the United States, he didn’t even ponder using his lack of citizenship as an excuse to not serve.  He saw it his duty.  Think about that as well—especially given less than 1 percent of the population today is willing to serve.

But despite his service, and attempting to gain citizenship over the years since, he had been unsuccessful.  As luck (or Providence, maybe) would have it, that would not be the end of the story.

Enter Carrie Sladek, of the Peaks Care Center in Longmont, Colorado.  She began helping him in pursuit of this most noble dying wish—to include helping him study for the citizenship test.

However, there was great concern—given his failing health—that he would not live to see that day.  At some point, the press picked up this story, which is how I became aware.  And rather than go into more detail—which I think would just take away from the story and add nothing—let me just insert an e-mail Carrie sent on May 17, 2019, at the end of this quest:

“I want to thank you for reaching out to me and my Veteran.  The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) came in a couple hours ago and did his Naturalization.

My Veteran is so very happy and we Thank Everyone for all they did.  I am proud of the response that our nation came together, sending letters and calling representatives, congressman, and senators.  The People made this lifelong dream happen for one of our Veterans.”

So what’s the moral of this story?

On the grand scale, freedom isn’t free.  And freedom isn’t forever.

As Thomas Jefferson eloquently stated, “The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance.”

We need to not forget the principles upon which our nation was born.  And we need Americans willing to take up arms to defend these principles. I don’t know about you, but less than 1 percent doing so is a shocking statistic.  Werner was willing, despite not even having the benefits of citizenship—until his final hours.

On the personal level, the moral is just as Carrie exemplified in her email, “…the people made his lifelong dream happen for one of our veterans.”

As our veterans age and find themselves in need, we need to step up—as they stepped up for us.  The need is overwhelming, and mostly unknown.

Get involved.  Whether that be volunteering and spending time with a veteran patient, “adopting” a veteran neighbor and getting him or her to medical appointments, or helping a veteran navigate the confusing array of possible benefits that might be of help.  There are endless ways to help.

You will be paid back several fold what you put into the endeavor you pursue just knowing you helped someone in need.  As the poet John Holmes said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”

Learn more about Capital Caring’s Veteran’s Impact Program here.

Note from Editor: Some information and quotes were included in the following news article :





PTSD Awareness and Community Support

Grief over loss affects each of us in different ways. When it’s due to the death of a loved one, it may feel traumatic, disrupting our everyday life – from relationships to work and school.

When our response includes severe anxiety, that’s part of how post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined. While most often associated with veterans, PTSD affects others, too.

With National PTSD Awareness Day observed on June 27, it’s a good time to learn more about Capital Caring resources and how we help people of all ages in our community cope with loss, trauma and death.

As a community-based non-profit, we offer support to more than the individuals and families who receive our hospice care. If you live in one of Capital Caring’s neighborhoods and need grief support, we’re here to help. You don’t need to be one of our hospice patients and our services are free of charge.

Serving our community is part of our mission. Our commitment and how we share our expertise are illustrated by the programs Capital Caring has developed especially for children and teens. We help individuals, groups and even entire schools.

How We Help the Kids in our Community

Children experience the death of a close loved one in different ways than adults. It’s an emotional journey and feelings of loss and grief may be hard to communicate and share. Depression and anxiety, withdrawal, social difficulties, and a decline in academic performance are all common reactions. Young people may also have problems adjusting to school after a loss.

The sheer number of children affected by death underscores why help is needed:

  • Most children will experience the death of a family member or friend by the time they complete high school
  • 5% will lose a parent by the time they are 16
  • Nearly 40% will experience the death of a peer
  • 20% will witness a death

In the areas we serve, as many as 4,000 children will need significant grief support. For local school personnel, this means they are highly likely to encounter a grieving student almost every day.

Unfortunately, despite a well-documented need, there are few programs in our community offering bereavement support groups and active, creative outlets to help children and teens deal with their grief. The cost of individual and family counseling – even with insurance coverage – makes it an unaffordable option for many.

That’s why we’ve established a school-based-program – Caring Circles. The six-week grief support group is designed to help children process their grief. When trauma is part of their experience, we make a referral to outside counselors.

The school setting is effective – it’s familiar, children spend most of their time in school, and problems due to loss can be identified and helped by school counselors. A school-based program also allows a large number of students to receive supportive services and be monitored over time.

In our program, students struggling with the death of a close loved one learn to share their emotions. Music, art, storytelling and movement, encourage children in a positive, active environment. Here, they learn to process their grief along with peers who have also experienced loss, in the familiarity of their own school.

Caring Circles is led by our counselors working alongside school counselors, at no cost to families or the schools.

Our support for children and families doesn’t, however, end with our six-week program: we offer other grief support programs and in some cases, our bereavement counselor may meet with the student and family to provide additional needed support.

Educational information is also sent home to parents including how to identify symptoms of grief and tips on how parents can help their children through the process.

Direct to School Assistance

Capital Caring directly supports school administrators, teachers and crisis team members, too. We offer guidelines on how to respond to both student and staff needs when a personal loss affects one person, a few, or an entire school.

Our assistance to schools includes:

  • Basic information on children’s bereavement
  • How to talk to a child and family dealing with loss
  • How a school can play a role in healing
  • The protocol suggested for letters to a school community dealing with a death

We know we make a difference: many school counselors call, telling us they feel ill-equipped to handle the issues that arise from loss experienced by their students.

In 2018 alone, we served 220 children in 14 schools.

Capital Caring also offers Point of Hope Camp for kids who have experienced loss. Held annually in several of our Capital Caring neighborhoods, this half-day camp engages kids and their peers in fun activities. With expert staff — social workers, counselors and chaplains — they work through the grief process by building trust, self-esteem and skills to cope with their recent loss.

A Variety of Support to Help with Loss

We know well from our decades of experience that everyone grieves in their own unique way, so we’ve developed a variety of support programs to help those dealing with loss. All services are available to our community members at no charge.

Capital Caring resources, individual and family counseling, support groups and local workshops are designed for all ages and interests. There are group walks in nature, music and dance sessions, scrapbooking to preserve memories, a return-to-work workshop and a book group for widows.

Our hope is that among all the services and programs we’ve developed, there’s something that will help you and your loved ones on your emotional journey as you move from grief to positive memories.


To learn more about specific support groups and workshops, click here.

For more information about grief counseling services, please click here.


Caring for Alzheimer’s Patients


Despite the high awareness of Alzheimer’s these days, there’s still a lot of confusion about the condition. Briefly, Alzheimer’s is the most common and recognized form of dementia, affecting approximately 5.8 million Americans today.  Alzheimer’s is not really a disease, but a range of symptoms caused by damage to the brain cells. As such, it may spring from other diseases of the brain such as Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease. Or, it may arise in someone who has had multiple strokes or other advanced illnesses such as heart disease or COPD.

Just as there is no single cause for Alzheimer’s, there is also no single path for how its symptoms begin and progress—everyone is different. For some people, the journey to late stage dementia may take years, while others decline quickly. A person with dementia may also appear to get better at times, only to deteriorate again.

What is known, however, is that Alzheimer’s or dementia is a primary cause for admission to hospice, accounting for 18 percent of patients—nearly one in five, according to the latest data from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Common Signs of Alzheimer’s

Memory loss is the most common symptom of Alzheimer’s and initially, may simply look like aging—forgetting what you’re doing, misplacing the house keys, and more. But when problems with memory, thinking and behavior begin to disrupt life’s daily activities, it’s time to consult a doctor.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, if at least two of the following mental functions are significantly impaired, the issue can be considered dementia:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

However, Alzheimer’s can quickly progress to a point where all involved would likely benefit from extra help.  You know it’s time to consult with a hospice professional when your family member with Alzheimer’s:

  • Can say only a few words
  • Can no longer walk and may be bed-bound
  • Is totally dependent on others for eating, dressing and grooming
  • Shows signs of severe anxiety

Early detection is key to giving you and your loved one the utmost benefit from treatment and the time to define what “quality of life” looks like moving forward. It also provides the opportunity to be proactive. All too often, dementia care is reduced to frequent trips to the Emergency Room and hospitalization when a problem becomes acute.

Capital Caring can provide more condition specific information and may also perform an evaluation at the request of you or your doctor. We can help determine if hospice care for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia is the right care option and if so, the right time to enter hospice care.

Caring for the Alzheimer’s Patient

There’s no doubt caring for a loved one in their last stage of life is stressful; yet caring for someone with Alzheimer’s may add to the challenge. Your loved one may have changed into someone different from the person you have always known. He or she may experience severe agitation, stress, anxiety and emotional instability that is new to both of you and hard to deal with.

That’s where hospice can really make a difference. Research shows that Alzheimer’s patients with hospice care have better pain control, are less likely to die in a hospital, and their families have greater satisfaction with end-of-life care.

That’s because hospice provides comfort, warmth, kindness, and the peaceful environment dementia patients need. While certain aspects of one’s personality are lost to Alzheimer’s, emotions remain with the affected patient long afterwards. Expert hospice care responds to those emotions, and the dementia patient in turn, responds to the specialized care and attention.

In short, we help nurture what remains.

How Capital Caring Can Help You

The staff at Capital Caring are knowledgeable about common problems and symptoms that often occur in patients with advanced Alzheimer’s and dementia. This expertise serves both the person affected and family/caregivers. We can help families understand how to best manage care, what to expect in the last stages of Alzheimer’s, and also provide support through the last phase of life.

For example, Capital Caring clinicians and aides know how to “read” patients who often can no longer verbally express themselves. We can identify visible signs of pain and discomfort and teach family members and caregivers how to recognize these expressions in order to make the patient more comfortable.

Our goal is to create a supportive and comforting care plan that meets the comprehensive needs of you and your loved one as you deal with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We offer meaningful support for your unique situation, addressing medical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs including grief counseling.

Our team of hospice experts will work with you and the other medical providers you already have to provide daily assistance and care that emphasizes pain control and quality of life—as you and your loved one have defined it—in any setting your family member calls home.

Ultimately, hospice can help both you and your loved one as everyone deals with the changes that Alzheimer’s, dementia and the last phase of life bring about. Hospice is about life, and the team works to make each day as good as possible…for every patient and family in our care.

1-year-old Graduates from Hospice Care

Summer is the season for high school and college commencement ceremonies, and Kenya and her son Bryson are celebrating a unique graduation. One-year-old Bryson has graduated from hospice care.

Bryson had been a patient in the Capital Caring pediatric hospice and palliative program in Washington, D.C., since he was born.  He experienced some trauma during birth that led to brain damage and he has spent much of his young life in the hospital.

“It was hard to explain to my friends that I have a baby but he’s was not with me; he was usually in the hospital,”  Kenya remembered as she bobbled Bryson from hip to hip.

“They told me he wouldn’t make it when we took him off the machines. I held him one last time and left the hospital. They called me a day later and told me he was still breathing on his own and to come back and hold him.”

Surrounding Families with Care and Support
With specialized post-natal care, Capital Caring is helping families sort through the  choices of services and treatments and providing assistance to families as they cope with the complex issues resulting from a serious illness or condition.

Throughout Bryson’s time in hospice care, our expert team was with him and his mother every step of the way – whether was giving him medication or helping Kenya talk through her situation.

“They let me talk it out and say what I needed to say. I knew that they were here for us day or night,” Kenya said.

During the holidays in 2018, Bryson’s condition started to improve. His hospitalizations decreased and his strength increased as he began developing into a strong baby boy. Right around his first birthday, Baby Bryson was discharged from Capital Caring hospice as his condition no longer met terms for him to receive hospice care.

While the Capital Caring team misses the frequent interactions with him, we are thrilled that he continues to thrive and defy all the medical predictions of his condition.

Kenya knows Capital Caring will still be here to support them both if things change, but our hope is that Baby Bryson continues to thrive and live a long, healthy life.

Baby Bryson is shown below with his mom on his first birthday.

Learn more about Capital Caring’s Children’s Program.

Local Nonagenarian Sets an Example for Young and Old Alike

May is Older Americans Month, an observance that provides an opportunity for all of us to acknowledge the contributions of older individuals. 

Every Wednesday at 7 a.m., Bernice Dinion leaves her home in the southernmost region of Fairfax County and joins throngs of other drivers on I-95. Yet unlike most of her fellow travelers, Bernice’s 40-mile round trip is a labor of love, not a professional obligation.

Bernice, who just turned 90 in January, is a volunteer at Capital Caring, the region’s leading nonprofit provider of hospice and palliative care and grief counseling services. And ever since she retired in 1994, she’s been contributing her time and talents to help nurses and other staff provide compassionate care for patients with advanced illness and their family members.

Altogether, she has spent 24 years as an extra set of hands at the hospice, which relies upon a cadre of volunteers to help fulfill its mission. Capital Caring estimates Bernice has logged more than 5,300 hours doing everything from changing bed linens to sitting and talking with patients, from filling water pitchers to consoling loved ones.

The need for such care is great, as underscored by the following facts:

  • An estimated 43.5 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12 months.
  • One in eight full-time workers in the U.S. are caregivers.
  • The average age of the caregiver is 49 years old and the majority are female (60%).

Looking back on her years of experience in caring for others, Bernice sums it up best. “To me, the end of life is just as important as the beginning. You need someone to be around, to be with you. I just can’t imagine what life was like before hospice care.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Capital Caring, visit: https://www.capitalcaring.org/get-involved/become-a-volunteer/

A Memorial Day Reflection

From the heart

What Memorial Day Truly Means 

As we observe Military Appreciation Week and the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday, Lt. Col. David Benhoff, USMC (ret.) and Director, Capital Caring’s Veterans Affairs Program shares his personal Memorial Day reflection.

As I sit here pondering (struggling, really) what exactly to write, it occurred to me to just speak from the heart.  I’m not a scholar, or an historian, and certainly do not want this to read in such a way. Rather, I want this to be truly heartfelt.  I think that is the best way to memorialize not only our fallen, but all veterans—including and especially those whom we have the honor to serve.

While Memorial Day began as far back as the Civil War, it has evolved over time to encompass much more.  Memorial Day honors the fallen, of course, and rightly so.  They paid the ultimate sacrifice, and remembrance is really all we can offer them now as well as looking out for their families. Many of the citations for bravery that accompany the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, and Bronze Star, make it clear they gave their lives, or came very close to doing so, looking after the men and women to their left and right.  Not for some national policy originating from thousands of miles away, and certainly not for personal glory.  They did it solely for their comrades. They were willing to give the full measure simply out of love for their fellow shipmates and soldiers. From the heart.

As we honor the fallen, we are also looking out for their comrades-in-arms who have landed, not on a beach, but in our care. Capital Caring is proud to serve the many veterans and their families within our community covering Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia.

So, let us resolve to remember the fallen by honoring their brothers and sisters who came back—and are now facing their Last Deployment.  All veterans, even those who never deployed to combat, risked it all.  By swearing the oath, pulling on their boots, and slinging that rifle over their shoulder they put their life on the line for their country with their willingness to run toward the sound of the guns, not away.

And, let us resolve to do this each and every day—not just this one day a year.  The fallen have no more days to give.  Let us stand in the gap left when they departed us, and look out for their brothers and sisters as best we can.  Until the bugler plays the sweet and heart-wrenching notes of taps, and the flag is folded.

Thanks for your service!

Learn more about Capital Caring’s Veteran’s Impact Program here.