Each quarter since 2005, The Senior’s Choice has honored one of our members’ caregivers with our distinguished “Caregiver of the Season” award, recognizing their dedication, passion, compassion, and outstanding achievement. The remarkable individual listed below is the kind of person who will be caring for your loved one when you hire a member of The Senior’s Choice to provide in-home care.
“Before meeting John, I was informed that he had advanced Parkinsons and limited mobility. During our early visits, John talked about his exposure to Agent Orange as a crew chief for F4s in Vietnam, and of the difficulty he had in getting disability from the DOD. He explained that 15 years previously, it had been confirmed that this exposure did indeed cause Parkinson’s. At about that time, I had been part of a research team at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research that had conducted a retrospective study that substantiated that Agent Orange exposure caused early onset of Parkinson’s. We were both amazed at the circumstances that brought us together and began to bond.
“When I asked John if he had ever been to the Vietnam Memorial, he said no. He explained that when he returned from Nam in 1969, people called him a baby-killer and spit on him. I told him that I had been part of the anti-war movement, but not part of that extreme fringe. Then I said, ‘John, I am sorry that happened. Please forgive us for being so crude.’ I told him of some of my friends, also disabled Vietnam vets, who had gotten a sense of closure after they visited the Memorial.
“After several months, John agreed to make the trip to DC. We borrowed a wheelchair and headed out. He wore his Air Force Vietnam veteran cap for the first time in years. When we arrived, parking was limited and John said, ‘Jim, it will be a miracle if we find a place to park,’ just as a car pulled out in front of us. We looked at each other and knew something special had happened.
“As we approached the site, there were many men wearing Vietnam veterans caps who looked at John, saluted, and said, ‘Thanks, brother.’ John was quiet, observing everything. We went very slowly through the Memorial, pausing occasionally, aware of the power of the moment. Afterward, we stopped on the walkway beyond and quietly looked back. A woman with two young children approached John, touched his shoulder, and said, ‘Thank you, sir, for serving our country.’ She returned to her children and spoke to them, and then they came over and said, ‘Thanks Mister, for serving our country.’ John silently cried.
“John never spoke directly about the visit, but I knew he was deeply moved. He now wears his Air Force cap on a regular basis. A year later, on the anniversary of the visit, I asked him about it. He said it was one of the most moving experiences of his life.”
The core of our mission at Shepherd’s Staff In-home Care is to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. For John, and for each of the other clients Jim has served in the three years he’s worked for us, Jim has made a difference.
— Angela & John Martin
Shepherd’s Staff In-home Care