Caring for Heroes


A Veteran’s Day Story

Vernon Hahn of Coon Rapids is a World War II US Army Infantry veteran and recipient of two purple hearts for bravery in the European Theatre. On November 10, 1943, Vernon was wounded by a German hand grenade, in a gully, near the Volterno River. In March of 1944, he suffered a concussion and facial injury, caused by an 88-caliber shell that knocked him out of a foxhole, earning him a second purple heart.

Since 1917, this military decoration has been awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed, while serving. It is the oldest award still given to US military members. The original purple heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington, then the Commander and Chief of the Continental Army.

Vernon’s wife, Vera, is in the care of the Our Lady of Peace Community Hospice team, and she’s a hero in her own right, facing the end of her life, with bravery, as she did as a nurse cadet in the US Army. Vera didn’t go overseas because the war ended just before it would be her turn.

Our Lady of Peace provides palliative care to Vera, while also meeting the needs of her devoted husband who is facing death with valor once again. This time, not his own, and wearing his heart on his sleeve, instead of his chest.

On this Veteran’s Day, World War II Veteran Vernon Hahn reflects on his war experience and memories of military service by answering questions from our community hospice team:

What is your most vivid memory from the time you served?

In June of 1944, my command was relieved of front-line duty. I was able to sit on a square in Rome and enjoy time off from combat.

How did military service impact your life?

It gave me a college education, and while stationed in Italy, I got to see Naples, Rome and Pompei.

What do you feel is important for people to know on Veteran’s Day?

In addition to remembering veterans, recognize and remember the stateside doctors, nurses, and factory workers who also served their country. And, remember the people who lost sons and daughters, and other members of their family. During WWII, every American bonded together for their country.

Our Lady of Peace is grateful to have the opportunity to honor Vernon and Vera Hahn for their service to our country. We have a long history of honoring veterans, along with caring for spouses, children and extended family, as they love and support their loved ones in hospice. Our care extends beyond end of life to the reality of life, once they are gone, as it will for Vernon and his family. Our Lady of Peace Bereavement Coordinator Amy Cotter says, “We provide support to families for up to 13 months with support groups, workshops and one-on-one conversations. It’s important to walk alongside them as they grieve, and we will continue to be there for Vernon and his family.”

We Honor Veterans