Samaritan honored hospice patient George Howard Stevenson, 84, during a special ceremony at The Samaritan Center at Voorhees for his service to our country. The Korean War Veteran and longtime Septa employee served as a U.S. Army seaman in Alaska during the 1950s.
On this day, George’s family and Samaritan’s hospice team gathered at his bedside. The social worker read a poignant poem about serving in the military. The nurse played the Army theme song from an iPod. Then the group wrapped George in a warm Samaritan Honors Veterans blanket as a small token of appreciation for his service.
After the ceremony, George was asked to share memories about his military experience. It was then, in the comfort and safety of his surroundings, George opened up for the first time to non-family members about his experience of racism in the military and throughout his life.
He recalled stories about disrespect, mistreatment, and pain. His family and members of his Inpatient Center care team were moved to tears as he softly spoke and recalled these difficult memories.
Despite these hardships his daughter Constance Cotton said, “My father was very proud of his contributions to American freedom.”
A couple of months later, George passed away peacefully in the comfort of his home. Constance adds, “Samaritan provided my father top-notch care. Our family appreciates them [honoring him for his service and ensuring he was pain free and comfortable.”]
Samaritan also recognized Constance for her service to our country during the Samaritan Honors Veterans ceremony in Voorhees. Constance, a retired Sergeant First Class and married mom of two, served in the Army for 17 years as a medical logistics specialist, including time in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.
Constance enlisted in the Army at age 21 after going to Scotland School for Veterans Children, technical school for advertising, and completing a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program. Her father, and a desire to give back to her country, inspired her to serve.
Today, the Army Veteran hopes to break down barriers around women’s issues in the military. Her goal is to recognize their challenges so they can be addressed, and to highlight their achievements so they can be celebrated.
To accomplish this goal, Constance speaks at events, is a member of Veteran community organizations, has appeared on RVN TV, a streaming service offering a variety of lifestyle and educational programming, and wrote a book entitled “On the Battlefield: Overcoming Challenges Associated with the Aftermath of Military Experiences.” She is also a member of Wounded Warriors and the Disabled Military Veterans (DAV).
With her personal mission in motion and caring for her mom and dad behind her, it was now time for Constance to focus on her healing. “I was really grieving after my mother passed away,” said Constance. “But I didn’t have time to [process my grief] because my dad needed help. That’s when I saw a flyer about Samaritan’s grief support services and decided to call for help.”
Constance met with Bereavement Supervisor Joan Ordille, DSW, LCSW. “Joan really listened to me. She provided me feedback and guidance that has been instrumental in my healing process and grief journey.”
Joan adds, “It’s my privilege to support family members and Veterans during their healing journey. Our Veterans have sacrificed a lot in their lives. They deserve the care and support necessary to heal from grief and loss.”
Samaritan’s commitment to honoring Veterans continues into the bereavement setting because it is very important to consider the unique losses Veterans experience, often in addition to the loss of a loved one.
The Samaritan Center for Grief Support offers grief support and counseling at no charge for family members of hospice patients for up to 13 months after the loss of their loved one. The Center also offers a variety of complimentary grief support groups facilitated by trained professionals.
Constance adds, “I am grateful for all of the staff and volunteers. They are kind, compassionate, and have great work ethics. I really appreciate all they have done for my Dad, me, and my entire family.”