Hospice program pins local vet just before his death

By ALLEN MINCEY
Posted 11/25/17

Gerald Samuel Sharpe served in the Royal Canadian Navy, but wanted to help his country and the United States during World War II. He did so, and several of his family did the same, though they were …

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Hospice program pins local vet just before his death

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Gerald Samuel Sharpe served in the Royal Canadian Navy, but wanted to help his country and the United States during World War II. He did so, and several of his family did the same, though they were serving in the United State Armed Forces.

The 83-year-old Sharpe eventually moved with his wife to Cleveland, and most recently, was in hospice care at Garden Plaza. Hospice wanted to thank him and his family for their service, so he received a Vet-to-Vet pin from Hospice of Chattanooga on Nov. 17 as family members  joined him. The pinning coincided with Veterans Day just a few days before.

Unfortunately, Sharpe became more ill than he had been before, and passed away on Nov. 19. His family still is appreciative of the honor bestowed on him by Hospice, and could tell by his expression that he, too, was honored and humbled by the pinning.

The honor was presented by U.S. Marine Corp. Veteran Doug Avery, HOC volunteer and member of Hospice of Chattanooga’s Vet-To-Vet Program, who conducted the pinning and ceremony.

This Hospice of Chattanooga Vet-To-Vet pinning ceremony is very special in that it honored Sharpe’s sons and grandson, all U.S. military veterans.  Sharpe’s son, Brian D. Sharpe is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, as well as Sharpe’s grandson, Gerald B. Sharpe, who is  an Iraq War veteran. Hospice of Chattanooga also honored Sharpe’s deceased son, Edward G. Sharpe, a U.S. Marine and Vietnam veteran.

For Edward G. Sharpe, the pin from Hospice was given to his mother. She also received a blanket from the Hospice organization, as did the others, including Gerry Sharpe for his son, Gerald Benjamin Sharpe.

“A large number of Hospice of Chattanooga patients are military service veterans. Veteran volunteers visit with these patients to share stories and provide comfort,” said Kim Hackney, Volunteer Coordinator for Hospice of Chattanooga. A special part of the Vet-to-Vet program honors service men and women by performing a “pinning” ceremony,” Hackney added.

"It was a very touching thing for them to do for him and the family here," said Brian Dale Sharpe. 

Gerry Sharpe said he noticed his father almost saluted Avery when he pinned him. His sons said  he had not been very aware of things, but seemed to perk up when the pinning ceremony occurred.

Sharpe had a heart issue about a week before the ceremony, and was not able to speak well or acknowledge those around him.  

"Today he was a lot more alert and was aware of everything that was going on," Brian said.

"It was nice for Kim and Hospice to set this up," said Gerry.

Hospice of Chattanooga believes that all those who served in the military, whether in combat or not, should be recognized for that service. America’s veterans and their families comprise about 25 percent  of families served by Hospice of Chattanooga and other hospices across the United States.      

Hospice of Chattanooga  participates in We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, focused on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment. By recognizing the unique needs of America’s veterans and their families, community providers like Hospice of Chattanooga are learning how to accompany and guide veterans toward optimal quality of life and a more peaceful ending. 

If you are interested in volunteering with Hospice of Chattanooga's Cleveland team as a regular volunteer or volunteer veteran, contact Hackney at 423-476-3696.

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