(Cincinnati, OH) – Hospice of Cincinnati and the City of Blue Ash (Ohio) welcomed approximately 170 veterans and current service members at the first “Welcome Home Veterans” event on Sept. 28 at Summit Park in Blue Ash. The event drew attendees from across the Greater Cincinnati region.
“Many of our veterans never received the warm ‘welcome home’ that they deserved,” said event organizer Julie Alley, MSW, LISW, social worker and veterans service liaison at HOC Navigators. “As a hospice, we believe that all veterans, regardless of where they are in their life’s journey, deserve a meaningful acknowledgement of their service from a grateful nation.”
At the mid-day event, veterans were given lunch, followed by a moving ceremony of music, words and salutations that honored multiple generations of service men and women. Special recognition was given to those who served in Vietnam.
The range of age and experiences among the veterans in attendance was especially noteworthy. “We had three WWII veterans attend, and they were very eager to meet each other,” Alley said. “They sat together in the front row for the ceremony. Another veteran shared that, since he returned from the Vietnam War in the late ‘60s, he’s never experienced such a warm welcome.”
The ceremony began with an opening address by Alley. The American Legion NE Post 630 then led a presentation of colors, and the Delta Kings Barbershop Chorus sang the Star-Spangled Banner. Hospice of Cincinnati Chaplain Levi Gause led the honor ceremony, and Chaplain Andrew Balk sang “God Bless the USA.” After a closing prayer and final remarks, the Delta Kings sang “God Bless America.”
The Color Guard then led the guests in a Parade of Heroes as community members lined their path, waving flags, cheering them on and handing them gift bags that included a challenge coin and notes of gratitude. The Bones of Cincinnatus brass band played them out with a rousing rendition of “The Armed Forces Medley.” Everyone exited under a huge American flag, suspended from two tall fire truck ladders (made possible by the Blue Ash and Evendale fire departments).
Rosie the Riveter also made an appearance, and the Ohio Honor Log was on display. Veterans were given an opportunity to receive pins and certificates honoring their service.
“Many of the veterans sought us out to thank us and share that it meant so much to them,” said Alley.
Hosting this event is part of Hospice of Cincinnati’s ongoing commitment to honoring veterans. “As a hospice, we understand how important it is to honor our patients who have served,” Alley said. “Honoring all veterans in the community-at-large is an extension of this, and an expression of our commitment as a partner of both the We Honor Veterans program and the United States of America Vietnam War 50th Commemoration.”
Hospice of Cincinnati holds Level 4 Status with the We Honor Veterans Program, a collaboration between the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Hospice of Cincinnati is also a Commemorative Partner of The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
About Hospice of Cincinnati and HOC Navigators
Established in 1977, Hospice of Cincinnati is the fourth-oldest hospice in the country, and the oldest and largest in the Cincinnati region. Its mission as a non-profit organization is to create the best possible and most meaningful advanced illness and end-of-life experience for all who need care and support in the community. In 2020, Hospice of Cincinnati and the multiple advanced illness and grief programs it created became HOC Navigators, designed to help guide people through advanced illness and the end of life. These programs include Hospice of Cincinnati, PalliaCare® Cincinnati, Conversations of a Lifetime®, Social Connections and The Goldstein Family Grief Center. Fernside, a 501(c)(3) organization, is an affiliate of Hospice of Cincinnati. Hospice of Cincinnati is sponsored by Bethesda Inc. in a collaborative community partnership with TriHealth and Bon Secours Mercy Health.