HOV Surprises Goodyear Veteran With Tribute | New
It was an emotional day for veteran Kenneth Hamrick.
The staff of The Groves at Goodyear invited their family and friends to a patio party to celebrate their 89th birthday. His care team at Hospice de la Vallée had another surprise in the works: a Salut visit to honor his military service. Hamrick served as an army soldier for two years during the Korean War.
“I loved this special honor,” he said softly. “It took me back to when I enlisted, to 16 weeks of basic training. I was proud to serve.
Hamrick recalled some frightening memories, such as hearing the command, “Fix the bayonets.” His eyes narrow a bit. “It means you are going to fight.” Her most painful memory – losing her cousin to the war. Her favorite memory? “Well my favorite thing was coming home,” he laughs. Then he sobers up. “In one piece,” he added.
After presenting Hamrick with a handmade quilt on a patriotic theme, Army Reservist Ron Garner proudly saluted a man he described as “kind, humble and deserving of such an honor.”
“It just makes my day. It’s really special for me to bond with someone who has served, ”Garner said. “I mean, the man is 89 and wears his veteran hat. His service to our country is obviously important to him.
The visit was also extremely touching for Hamrick’s family, who shared how much they cherished the moment the two men greeted each other.
“It means so much. My dad never talked about the war while I was growing up and probably doesn’t know how much I respect his service. We have our freedom thanks to men like him, ”said his daughter Kim Vancs. “This tribute was touching for me.”
At the Hospice of the Valley, several people worked behind the scenes to make this happen, including Eileen Dullum, a volunteer coordinator; Samantha Inciong, Community Liaison Officer; social worker Katie Cozby; nurse Shannon Seidel; and team leader Sarah Ellis.
Arizona is home to over half a million veterans.
The agency’s Saluting Our Veterans program reflects a commitment to honor veteran patients like Hamrick for their service to the country and for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made.
Since the program began in 2011, Hospice of the Valley volunteers have made nearly 3,000 tribute visits. These trained volunteers, who are veterans themselves, organize an intimate face-to-face meeting – handing out a ceremonial pin and small flag.
Both veterans spend time remembering their years of service, often surprising family members who are overjoyed to hear stories they have never heard before. These moments are invaluable gifts for Veterans, who relive their past with pride, while families find themselves with new treasured memories.
Greeting visits are a great way to bring comfort, dignity, and compassionate care into a person’s life at a deeply meaningful time. To learn more about how to volunteer for this program or others, visit hov.org/volunteer or call 602-636-6336.