Rita and Jimmy

Rita Sullivan, a Mayo Clinic Health System Hospice Department volunteer, recently presented Jimmy Ketz, hospice patient and U.S. Air Force veteran, with a pin during a We Honor Veterans pinning ceremony in his home in Clayton.

The Hospice Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in northwest Wisconsin has teamed up with the We Honor Veterans program to recognize veterans in hospice care. As part of the program, volunteers who are veterans visit with hospice patients who are veterans to express their gratitude for their service. The visits also give patients a chance to tell their stories to someone who has been in their shoes. Patients are then recognized with a framed certificate and an American flag pin.

Rita Sullivan, former vice chair of operations for Mayo Clinic Health System-Chippewa Valley and Northland, retired in September and now is a volunteer in the program. As a veteran, Sullivan takes part in presenting patients with pins during the pinning ceremonies and helps veterans move toward a more peaceful end of life.

Sullivan recently met with Jimmy Ketz, hospice patient and U.S. Air Force veteran, at his home in Clayton. She learned about his experience marching in the inaugural parade for President Dwight Eisenhower and his service in the Korean War.

“I am so honored to be a part of this program,” Sullivan says. “The most rewarding part has been the hugs from veterans and their families, telling me how appreciative they are. You get to hear all of their stories and can see how proud the family is of their veteran.”

She also believes the pinning ceremonies are important, because it shows veterans that even in their final stages of life, their service is not forgotten.

Anyone interested learning how to become a hospice volunteer and participating in the We Honor Veterans program can call 715-464-5265 or complete an application at mayoclinichealthsystem.org.

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Dunn County News Editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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