A Veteran’s Story

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In recent years, the Veterans Administration System has experienced bad press. This is my family’s experience with the Lake Nona VA in Orlando, Fla.

My youngest brother served in the U. S. Army. Without going into details, he was declared 100 percent disabled. For many years he received VA medical care. As an RN for 38 years, I recognized good, quality, coordinated care, which is what he received.

My brother unfortunately developed early-onset Alzheimer’s, meaning starting before age 65 (only 5-10 percent patients). He was in his 50s when diagnosed and continued to live at home.

When his health deteriorated, his wife moved him to the Lake Nona VA, Community Living Center, Spring Hill [C] Alzheimer’s Unit. Our family visited him multiple times at the VA. The facility is very nice, with lots of windows and light. My brother had a private room and bathroom, with a window overlooking the lake. While he was able to walk, he could roam around at will, experiencing a sense of freedom in a safe, secure environment.

The most impressive part of this VA is the staff. They are caring, compassionate, and professional. Most are veterans. My brother was always treated with dignity and respect. When we’d take him outside to the pavilion, everyone we passed addressed him by name and asked how he was. My brother was treated like family. He finally required Hospice, and yet was able to stay in the same room, cared for by the same staff, until the end.

The Alzheimer’s took him on June 27, 2018, at age 64.

Saying goodbye in his room, he was covered by the American flag. Chaplain, unit staff, and family present The National Anthem was played.

The Veteran’s Poem was read.

“It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.

It is the veteran, who salutes the flag,

It is the veteran, who serves under the flag,

to be buried by the flag,

so the protester can burn the flag.”

- Anonymous

His wife was presented with The Stars and Stripes Medal for his dedicated service to the Armed Forces. Ending, at attention, with Taps.

My brother was treated with dignity and respect the day he entered the VA, all the days he lived there, and on the day he was carried out. Our family will be forever grateful to the Lake Nona VA, CLC Spring Hill [C] Alzheimer’s Unit for the loving care they provided our brother.

Brigid Stevenson

Sealy

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