What: On Veterans Day, Visiting Nurse will offer an informal grief program for veterans and their families or survivors. A light supper will be served.
When: 5-7:30 p.m. Nov. 11
Where: Visiting Nurse, 5910 Homestead Road
Cost: Free. For information or to RSVP, call 435-3222.
Veterans Day isn't a day of celebration for all veterans, or their families.
The legal holiday, which will be observed Nov. 11, calls up a range of emotions for families who have lost a loved one in battle or other military service. It also can bring back memories for veterans who returned home, and for those now facing the end of their tour of duty on Earth.
“For my husband, Veterans Day is a very solemn day,” Bonnie Davis, a bereavement coordinator at Visiting Nurse in Fort Wayne, said of her spouse, who served in the Vietnam War. “He thinks of comrades he lost.”
Visiting Nurse will offer a special grief support program 5-7:30 p.m. Nov. 11 for veterans and their families or survivors.
Davis will help host the evening. Information also will be offered by Jessica Gerardot, a therapist at the local Vet Center, and Jayme Patterson, an Indianapolis resident whose husband was killed in 2007 while serving in Iraq.
The evening will follow an informal format, with people sitting in small groups for a light supper and discussion.
“People can learn as much from each other as from a professional,” Davis said.
The local program grew out of a national hospice movement to honor veterans at the end of their lives, Davis said.
When hospice patients learn the end of life is near, many feel frustrated because they believe they haven't lived their whole life yet, Davis said.
It can be especially difficult for military veterans: They had to be ready to tackle so much during their military service and throughout life, she said, but they don't feel ready now that their life is near its end.
Most people think back over their life as they ponder its end, Davis said. That can lead some veterans to want to tell stories about their war service they have kept bottled up inside since they returned from active duty. In many cases, the stories could be ones the veteran's family is hearing for the first time.
Veterans who didn't serve in combat may be uplifted by thinking back on their military service — realizing now they made a greater contribution than they thought at the time, she said.
Other veterans or family members may harbor anger because the veteran wasn't diagnosed or treated soon enough to prevent death, Davis said.
Possibly the most difficult situation involves ones where a loved one was severely injured in combat, requiring a closed-casket funeral, Davis said.
“It definitely can affect their grief,” she said of the veteran's family. “There is a lot of psychological value in seeing your loved one.”
If you never see that person again, she explained, the mind can have a difficult time coping with the loss.