The Veterans History Project: Honoring America’s Heroes
At Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care, we make it a special point to honor America’s Veterans throughout the year.
During the fall, especially during the week of Veterans Day, we sponsor dozens of Veterans Recognition Events across all our regional sites for the benefit of Crossroads patients who are Veterans, as well as their families and members of the community. We also take time to honor Veterans with ceremonies on other traditional patriotic holidays — Memorial Day, Flag Day, the Fourth of July — and in individual events whenever a patient and family feel it would be most appropriate and meaningful.
We believe it’s important to remember not only what these brave men and women did to serve our country, but also what it is they fought for — the freedoms we enjoy and the democratic society that is our shared pride.
A Chance to Remember
It’s why we like to make people aware of a special program called The Veterans History Project. The Veterans History Project is a program of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center established by the U.S. Congress in 2000. Its mission is “to collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of America’s wartime Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war.”
The program is administered through Congressional offices and relies on a national network of Veteran service organizations, universities, secondary schools, healthcare providers such as Crossroads, community groups, scout troops, families and the general public to record interviews according to program guidelines.
These interviews, along with original letters, diaries, photos, memoirs and historic documents related to a Veteran's wartime service are then preserved at the Library of Congress. The documents and other materials trace Veterans’ experiences dating from World War I through current war zones.
Crossroads Honors Veterans
That might sound very familiar to families of Crossroads patients. For years, Crossroads has sponsored a Life Journals program, where staff and volunteers work with patients to develop individual histories of patients’ lives, so they can share them with family and friends. Staff who have worked on Life Journals programs are thus well-positioned to help facilitate Veterans History Project efforts with patients’ families.
“We look for ways we can not only acknowledge them for what they’ve done, but also instill a sense of value, dignity and appreciation for their military service,” says Greg Volpitto, Chaplain in the Crossroads’ St. Louis office.
It’s equally important for their families, he says. Often patients who served in the military during wartime tend to be reticent about discussing what they experienced. But having the opportunity to talk about what they saw can be emotionally therapeutic and even bring them closer to their families.
“It can be a great gift – the chance to express to the family what they went through, the challenges they faced, and what is most important to them,” Greg says.
Some of the best conversations take place between Veterans because they come from a shared military experience, and between Veterans and their children or grandchildren, Greg says. Having such a close, personal connection can also make it easier for the interviewee to share his or her personal story.
To help facilitate the interview process, the Veterans History Project offers a special Field Kit with instructions, along with the necessary forms that participating parties will need to sign, the type of formatting the project requires for audio, video and photographs, and data sheets to help identify the materials being provided.
“There are many reasons why it’s so important to have these interviews recorded for posterity,” says Greg. “For the patients, it can be almost a cleansing ritual. At the same time, it gives people a chance to hear what it means to go to war, for those who participate as soldiers, as well as their loved ones. These personal histories offer a perspective that can’t be found in a history book.”
To learn more about how Crossroads works to supports Veterans at end of life through our unique care programs, visit our website or call us at 1-888-564-3405.
If you found this information helpful, please share it with your network and community.
Copyright © 2017 Crossroads Hospice. All rights reserved.