Intermountain Health Hospice Honors Vietnam Veterans

Intermountain Health Hospice honors Vietnam War veterans at Lutheran Medical Center on March 30.

In the 1970s, those who fought in the Vietnam War were largely either ignored or vilified for serving their country, unlike veterans of other, perhaps more popular, wars.

In recent years, organizations and politicians have sought to correct that error and let those veterans know that their valor and service are appreciated.

Since 2021, March 30 has been declared “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in Colorado, and Intermountain Health Hospice held a meaningful ceremony and event to honor these veterans at Lutheran Medical Center.

About 100 people attended, including veterans, their families, the Civil Air Patrol Color Guard, the VFW band, Boy Scouts of Colorado, representatives of support agencies, caregivers, volunteers, and the news media.

The veterans took part in a pinning ceremony by other veterans. They also received special Denver Broncos challenge coins from KOA reporter Susie Wargin, former Broncos player Billy van Heusen, and Denver Broncos Quarterback Club President Dr. James Teumer.

Honor was given to those who may have been treated “as if they never served and the war never happened,” as described by Col. Jim Kiekhaefer, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Army during the war.  

Sonya Neumann, post-acute executive director, told attendees that the event was meant to be “a celebration of your service, and the honor and valor of a generation that served with honor. … With an outpouring of love and gratitude, you hold a special place in our hearts.”

The event included several meaningful moments, from the story told by a woman of her husband’s long history of PTSD and its debilitating effects to the description of the items placed on the “Missing Man’s Table.” Several veterans also told their own personal stories.

Greg Goettsch, a Vietnam veteran and executive director of Qualified Listeners, encouraged the audience to reach out to other veterans to share a sense of purpose and hope and to help stem the tide of suicide that is all too common among veterans. His organization is a resource hub that serves veterans and their families in northern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming.

Hospice participates as a Five-Star partner in We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The program seeks to recognize the unique needs of veterans and their families, improve care for veterans and acknowledge their sacrifices, as well as providing end-of-life care.

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