MERIDIAN, Idaho – The Compassus program serving Meridian and the surrounding areas this week honored local veterans Roger Guernsey and Gene Hollingsworth for their military service in separate pinning ceremonies at Copper Springs Senior Living in Meridian and Edgewood Spring Creek Eagle Island in Eagle, Idaho. The ceremonies to publicly acknowledge the service and sacrifices of the two men included the presentation of a pin and certificate of recognition by fellow veteran and Compassus–Meridian volunteer Tammy Clement.
“The courageous service of our veterans and their colorful memories of defending our nation at home and abroad should be treasured, and Compassus is pleased to show appreciation for individuals like Roger Guernsey and Gene Hollingsworth, who are among our community’s most valuable members,” said Victoria Brutsman, executive director of Compassus–Meridian.
Many Americans do not realize that one out of four U.S. deaths is of a military veteran. Compassus–Meridian is a We Honor Veterans hospice program, providing specialized care to veterans facing a life-limiting illness. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs created We Honor Veterans to empower hospice and other healthcare providers across the country to meet the unique needs of seriously ill veterans and their families.
“We Honor Veterans helps hospice professionals and volunteers better understand and serve veterans at the end of life,” said Clement, who has been a volunteer with Compassus for five years. “The program allows us to acquire the necessary skills to fulfill our mission to serve and honor these men and women with the dignity they deserve. The pinning ceremony is a formal way to acknowledge a veteran’s service and the meaning of that service to their life.”
Guernsey, an Onaway, Idaho, native, served in General George Patton’s Third Army, the 94th Infantry Division. He spent 21 months oversees during World War II, participating in the Battle of the Bulge. Back in the U.S., Guernsey joined the National Guard as a first lieutenant, and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After leaving his position in the National Guard, Guernsey served as state forester in Boise for 18 years and was also a member of the state legislature.
Hollingsworth enlisted in the Air Force as a pilot cadet in 1956, starting as a B-47 pilot and working up to a helicopter pilot until he was discharged in 1976. During the Vietnam War, he flew a total of 91 missions in the HH53, affectionately known as the “Jolly Green Giant.” His crew is the highest decorated squadron to date. His Air Force decorations and awards include: Air Force Commendation Medal, Airman’s Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross, reserved for those distinguished by “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”
NHPCO and the VA invite hospice providers to pursue four levels of partnership with the We Honor Veterans program. The first level demonstrates a provider’s commitment to provide relevant education and training for staff and volunteers, and to identify patients with military experience. Subsequent levels require additional education and training, and other activities including community education and outreach to veterans organizations, establishing veteran-specific policies and procedures, and seeking local partnerships with veteran organizations. Compassus – Meridian is a Level 4 Partner, having achieved the program’s highest level of partnership and commitment.
NHPCO is the largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the U.S. The organization is committed to improving end of life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones.
The mission of the VA is to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.
For information about Compassus – Meridian, please call (208) 297-5586.