Capital Caring recently honored hospice patient Paul Mclean, a retired Command Sergeant Major in the United States Air Force. Sergeant Major is the highest enlisted rank in the military.

Capital Caring makes extra efforts to honor service men and women in care at the not-for-profit hospice and palliative care provider. Capital Caring participates in the We Honors Veterans Program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and launched a partnership with the American Veterans Center, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, to honor those in our care who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States.

For Rachael Weaver, hospice volunteer service is part of a rich history and legacy in her life. Now Volunteer Services Coordinator for Capital Caring’s Prince William and Fauquier counties, and the Adler Center for Caring, she has been a volunteer for hospice organizations since the age of 16. Her mom was the Director of a small rural hospice for many years and was instrumental in advocating and ensuring volunteers were part of the hospice benefit with Medicare. “Volunteers are the heart of hospice, who do not get paid and are willing to break their hearts a little because every mom or dad they serve deserves a piece of their heart, “ said Weaver. She is also actively involved with honoring military veterans as part of the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program.

Just this past week, Rachael led the honoring of Capital Caring patient Paul Mclean with volunteer Dick Messersmith, who served as a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force.  An Aldie, Virginia resident, Messersmith has contributed his time and energy with Capital Caring since November 2014 as a patient care volunteer. He has already contributed 142 hours of service in the last nine months. A central part of Messersmith’s volunteer service with Capital Caring is presenting pins and certificates presents pins and certificates to veterans in hospice care. His most recent service was with 30 year U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Paul Mclean, a Capital Caring patient at the Adler Center for Caring in Aldie. Initially, Messersmith said that he was hesitant to conduct the service since he had only served 5 years in the Air Force versus Mclean’s 30 years in the Air Force, which culminated in achieving the highest rank for an enlisted military member, Command Sergeant Major. Sergeant Major Mclean was moved and communicated back via a handwritten note that simply read: “5 years, 5 days – it all counts.”

Nearly 800 trained volunteers across Capital Caring’s eight neighborhoods in northern Virginia, Washington, DC and Prince Georges County, Maryland provide direct patient and support care to individuals living with advanced illness and their families.

For nearly four decades, Capital Caring has provided care to those living with advanced illness. A 24/7 coordinated, compassionate care approach is available to families regardless of ability to pay.

To view photos of this special pinning, visit