Honoring Heroes: EverHeart Hospice Volunteers Give the Gift of Recognition 

July 2, 2021

“Nothing is as strong as the heart of a volunteer.” LTC Jimmy Doolittle, WWII 

In honor of Independence Day, EverHeart Hospice (Formerly State of the Heart Care) would like to highlight our We Honor Veterans volunteers: John Strawser, John Szanto, and Rick Hyatt. This special group of veterans takes heart in honoring our veteran patients by performing special pinning ceremonies. The ceremonies consist of presenting the patient with a leather-bound folder that holds a personalized certificate with the patient’s name and the branch of service they were in, a special pin that our volunteer pins on the patient, and a salute. Our volunteers will also discuss the patient’s time in service and their experiences if the patient wishes.  

Stories of Service

Photo for We Honor Veterans

John Strawser soluting a veteran

This personal connection is not only a memorable experience for the patient but also the volunteer. When asked what he enjoys most about volunteering, John Strawser, who has been an EverHeart Hospice volunteer since 2016, shared, “Being able to talk to veterans and hearing their stories. They all have stories to tell, and sometimes families have never heard the stories before now.” 

EverHeart Hospice is currently a Level One Hospice Partner with the national We Honor Veterans Program. The WHV national program states that “By recognizing the unique needs of America’s Veterans and their families, community providers, in partnership with VA staff, will learn how to accompany and guide them through their life stories toward a more peaceful ending. The goal of the program is to care for and honor those who have served when they reach the end of life.” 

Providing Honor and Recognition

Caring for and honoring those who have served is a big part of Rick Hyatt’s life. Rick simply shared that he volunteers because “I

EverHeart Employee with a Volunteer

Debra Dunn, Administrative Assistant at EverHeart Hospice with Volunteer Rick Hyatt

like helping veterans out.” He truly has a passion for honoring veterans. He not only spends time volunteering with EverHeart Hospice since becoming a volunteer in 2019 but is also a lifetime member of the American Legion and VFW, member of the Honor and Color Guard, Red Cross volunteer, and volunteer for the Top Priority Veterans.  

EverHeart Hospice’s We Honor Veterans Program gives patients that have served our country honor and dignity, as we thank them for their service and provide them with the recognition they deserve. 

Volunteer presenting certificate

John Szanto presenting a certificate

John Szanto chose to start volunteering with EverHeart Hospice and the We Honor Veterans Program after his wife received hospice care seven years ago. “Hospice had provided so much care and support to us that I wanted to give back. I enjoy the We Honor Veterans Program because I served in Vietnam and have a deep respect for the military and those in uniform.” John has been a volunteer for six years, and through that time, he has also helped with our Bereavement Program, hosting grief groups and sharing his journey through grief with others. 

Family History of Service

EverHeart Hospice currently has a team of volunteers that serve both our Indiana and Ohio agencies in many ways. Since 2016, Lee Emrick has volunteered at EverHeart Hospice in a variety of different roles, including companionship with patients, office support, and assistance with agency events. He recently shared his family history in the service that he discovered while

Lee at Sons of American Revolution

Lee Emrick-Sons of the American Revolution

researching his ancestry. “I was working on my family tree when I discovered that my 4th great-grandfather, Michael Emerick, fought in The American Revolution. Michael and his four brothers had moved to Ohio in 1804 and settled near what was to become Germantown, Ohio. They were very influential in getting Germantown started. Upon more research, I discovered that I was entitled to join The Sons of The American Revolution.”  After completing a lengthy process that started in April of 2020, Lee was notified of his acceptance into the group in late July 2020. Lee also belongs to The Richard Montgomery Chapter of The Ohio Society of SAR, is a member of the Color Guard, and has enjoyed going to parades and grave markings of revolutionary soldiers. 

Become a Volunteer

Volunteering is one of the most powerful ways to make a statement of joy and honor with your life. It provides the feeling that you are part of a team, making a positive difference in the world. If you are a veteran and would like to learn more about volunteering with our We Honor Veterans Program, or if you would like information on becoming a volunteer in another way that is close to your heart, we encourage you to reach out and contact our team. By becoming a volunteer at EverHeart Hospice, you can help us honor our patients’ lives with trusted care.  

We would like to thank all our volunteers, patients, and those in the community that have served our country. “We are the land of the free because of the brave.” 

More information about volunteering for EverHeart Hospice can be found on our website, www.everhearthospice.org, or by calling us at 800-417-7535.

New call-to-action