POSTPONED - Vietnam War Commemoration

Capital Caring Health cordially invites Vietnam & Vietnam Era Veterans and their Families to a special Vietnam War Commemoration at the National Marine Corps Museum. Please note that this event has been postponed in an abundance of caution for the well-being of our guests. A new date will be announced once the risk of COVID-19 has passed.

Veterans will receive a complimentary Vietnam War Commemoration Lapel Pin during the program. Guided museum tours and light refreshments will also be provided to guests following the ceremony.

State representatives from the Virginia Office for Veterans will also be onsite to assist veterans in accessing federal and state benefits along with Capital Caring Health staff to answer questions about care planning and other services to support Veterans.

Please note that photographs taken at this event may be used on Capital Caring Health's website, social media accounts, or other communications.

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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 :

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/05/02/decorated-vietnam-veteran-seeks-citizenship-end-life-draws-near.html

 

 

 


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.


Capital Caring Launches New Veterans’ Impact Program

Capital Caring's new Veteran's Impact Program (VIP) Focused on Enhanced Support for Those Who Have Served

Capital Caring is proud to serve the many veterans and their families within our community covering Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia. While we have been recognizing the veterans in our service for more than 40 years, we have discovered that what veterans and their caregivers need most is ‘boot-on-the ground’ help – help in securing more in-home caregiver support, assistance in securing veterans’ benefits, such as disability compensation, Veterans Affairs healthcare, and veterans’ pension with aid and attendance. In addition, veterans need assistance in working with physicians attuned to diagnosing conditions peculiar to active duty service.

Working in collaboration with all major departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and active duty medical facilities in the Virginia, Maryland, and DC area, as well as the numerous VA Community-based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), Capital Caring will help  facilitate access to the valuable resources and benefits that veterans and their families are entitled to and build a world-class veterans care program for other hospice organizations to follow.

David Benhoff was recently selected to develop and implement a robust and multi-faceted Veterans Program throughout all of Capital Caring.  David served over 25 years as an intelligence and counterintelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps, during which time he deployed and took part in Operations Just Cause (Panama invasion and stabilization, 1989-90), Iraqi Freedom (Iraq, 2005), and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan, 2009).

Following retirement from the Marine Corps in 2012, David transitioned into the healthcare field as a way to continue serving—working as the Veteran Program Coordinator for several years with another hospice provider before coming to Capital Caring in 2016 as a Volunteer Coordinator, and later, serving as a Care Representative in the Manassas neighborhood.

In addition to his role with Capital Caring, David is also vice-president and co-founder of Hero’s Bridge, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting older veterans in need.  David holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Virginia Military Institute and a Master of Education, Curriculum and Instruction, from Lynchburg University.

For more information on Capital Caring’s Veterans’ Impact Program, contact David Benhoff at dbenhoff@www.capitalcaring.org.


Veterans continue service as Capital Caring volunteers

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For Karita Knisely, service is part and parcel with her life. Now volunteer coordinator for Capital Caring’s Merrifield neighborhood, Knisely once served as a U.S. Park Ranger.

“From my days as a park ranger, and now with my work at Capital Caring, I know how important our volunteers are to realizing our vision of world-class care for our patients and their families,” Knisely said. “Through our ‘We Honor Veterans’ program, I partner veteran volunteers with veteran patients. The time they spend together is very special because of their shared experiences.”

One such veteran is retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Gary Waitschies. A Springfield, Virginia resident, Waitschies has volunteered with Capital Caring since 2009 as a patient care volunteer. Waitschies presents pins and certificates to veterans who are Capital Caring patients as part of the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program.

“I really enjoy volunteering and especially conducting the pinning ceremonies. From one veteran to another, to pay tribute to the service rendered by the patient is really remarkable. I always notice the incredible sense of pride in each family member as their loved one is being honored,” said Waitschies.

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.

“Aspects of our care, such as our Point of Hope Counseling program, are designed to support the patient and also their family,” said Knisely. “Many of our volunteers have remained part of the Capital Caring family because of the care someone they knew received. It is a great way to serve others.”

Davis pointed to an event Capital Caring hosted on Memorial Day in honor of a veteran in our care. “We honored a 100-year-old veteran from Arlington for his military service. He had lived in the same house for 99 years. We treat the veterans in our care as the heroes they are,” she remarked.

Capital Caring and the American Veterans Center launched a partnership on October 1. Together, the two 501c3 organizations will guard the legacy and honor the service of those veterans who entrust their care to the compassionate professionals at Capital Caring. To find out more about Capital Caring, or to make a referral, call us anytime at 1-800-869-2136 or visit us on the web at www.capitalcaring.org