Honoring Veterans in Hospice Care

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Arrianna Ackerman is an army flight operations sergeant in the Minnesota Army National Guard, responsible for aviation operations. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, she is hoping to soon be accepted into medical school at the U of M to fulfill her dream of being an Army doctor, which lead her to volunteer with Our Lady of Peace.

A Navy Korean War veteran who is now in the care of Our Lady of Peace (OLP) Hospice, in his home. He’s spending Thursdays with Army Sergeant Arrianna Ackerman who wants to honor him for his service that paved a path for her to serve.

“I’m just one soldier, and there have been many soldiers before me who deserve quality care and attention,” she explains. “I want to be a sympathetic ear and learn from what he went through while at war, how it impacted his family and his life.”

With an uncle who served as a medic in Vietnam and uncles who served in the Peruvian Airforce, Arrianna has admiration for the patriotism of soldiers from the past. She says they are her role models, including her newest veteran friend. “He and so many others did everything they could to protect our country, and they lost so many friends in their units. The losses that

I have experienced while in the Army cannot compare to the loss many soldiers have experienced during wartime. A unit I worked with lost three soldiers in an accident, and it was very difficult for everyone to work through that loss. So, I hope to be someone who kind of understands what he went through.”

Arrianna says she has wanted to help people from the time she was a little girl, and now she wants to help soldiers, past and present. “Veterans are crucial members of society. They sacrificed family time and put their life on the line. They deserve the best care and someone who listens.”

“During my first visit with our OLP veteran in hospice care, I thanked him for his service, and he congratulated and thanked me as well,” recalls Arrianna. “He said that what I’m doing is amazing. There is a lot of mutual appreciation between us, which is heartwarming.”

The doors of our Residential Hospice opened the day Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, and we have always respectfully cared for veterans from all branches of the military. 10 years ago, a group of talented women began sewing patriotic pillowcases for veterans to rest their heads on, and many have said it’s an honor to make them. Although Nancy Skuta has volunteered with OLP for many years she recently took on the Patriotic Pillowcases Project.

A year ago, Nancy created a pattern, shopped for red, white, and blue fabric, and took a seat at her sewing machine, as many sewers had done before her. The granddaughter of a WWII veteran and the daughter and daughter-in-law of soldiers who served during the Korean conflict, Nancy knows that a lot of older veterans don’t talk about their service. She says, “This is a way to recognize what they did, and honor them for their service.”

When selecting fabrics that fit together, Nancy is honored to channel her mother’s experience as a quilter. “I choose two to three fabrics and use one or two for the body of the pillowcase, and one for the band at the top,” she says. “If I’m using two patterned fabrics, I’ll break it up with a plain color, so it’s more pleasing to the eye.

I use 100% cotton patriotic fabric, so the pillowcase is soft and comfortable. I love that OLP does this, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Our Lady of Peace is grateful for these hospice volunteers who provide comfort to our veterans, and we’re honored to serve those who served our country.

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