VET TO VET: Program Honors Veterans’ Special Bond

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Veterans share a special bond.   A hospice program in Iowa is receiving national recognition for honoring that connection not only today, but all year round.

“I've always liked Veterans Day,” says 81-year-old Army Vet John Kluesner. 

Drafted in 1951, Kluesner served during the Korean War.  His orders changed right before he was supposed to ship out.

“They say well, everyone else goes to Korea and we're going to send you first draftees to Alaska,” he says.

Six kids and about six decades later, Kluesner is in hospice care.

“I've got a bad heart, I've got bad lungs, but other than that I'm in good shape.”

About a month ago, HCI Care Services paired him with another veteran, Glenn Amber.

“I'm a gregarious person.  Runs in my family,” says Amber.

Amber has 36 years with the Air National Guard.  The two men meet once a week for the Veteran-to-Veteran program.

“We talk about some of the old neighborhoods, some of the common people we have known in the past,” he says.

“As they start entering that end of life journey, they can share with that veteran and it becomes peaceful for them so we want to continue to do that for them and provide them that support and it's a nice friendship that they do develop,” says Bev Erskine with HCI Care Services.

At a pinning ceremony at his house, Kluesner received the Veterans Service pin - a symbol of his days as a  faithful soldier.

“We ask you wear it proudly,” says Amber.

“It's really nice and I appreciate everyone involved in it,” says Kluenser.

In the last year, nearly 30 volunteers from HCI Care Services have teamed up with more than 300 veterans in hospice.  Hospice Foundation of America is using the program as a model for end of life care for veterans.

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