Vets' health, importance of legacy focus of Sunday event
ATLAS - John Deppen had two pieces of advice for the local veterans who attended a special program hosted by Family Home Medical at the Atlas American Legion Sunday afternoon.
One, tell their stories.
"When we lose our veterans, we lose our stories. When we lose our stories, we lose our history. If we lose our history, we forget who we are as a nation and a people," said Deppen, a mentor of the Northumberland County Veterans Treatment Court.
And two, never forget to ask for help.
As special guest speaker, Deppen explained September is Suicide Prevention Month, and statistics show that every 80 minutes a veteran or active service man or woman takes their own life.
"That is unacceptable," he said.
The younger generations must be "vigilant" when it comes to the elderly veterans, Deppen said.
However, with the bad news, Deppen also had good news. The county veteran treatment court provides treatment and support for veterans going through the justice system who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcoholism or other emotional or mental problems associated with their service.
Northumberland County was one of the first counties in the state to provide such a service, and two sets of graduates have already come through the program, Deppen said.
There are also organizations like Family Home Medical that are there for veterans at the end of their life, to provide support in their most vulnerable times and listen to their stories as they age, he said.
Event organizer Jamie Wolfgang, of the Mount Carmel-based Family Home Medical, said the program, called We Honor Veterans, was developed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).
It's a nation-wide program designed to teach community hospices and veteran organizations of the unique needs for veterans and to honor them, she said.
"We appreciate everything they've (veterans) done for us, and we're honoring them in this way, and giving them recognition," Wolfgang said.
Andy Bubnis, quartermaster for Marine Corps League Black Diamond Detachment 846, said he felt the World War II veterans got the most of the program.
"Young people today aren't aware of their sacrifice. I could see their emotion and tears," he said.
Bubnis, who served in the Vietnam War, had an uncle who was killed in The Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.
"It brought back emotions to me about the sacrifices they made," he said.
More than 30 individuals - veterans and their families - attended the program. A free meal was provided and a slide show of photographs of local veterans and the documentary "The Honor Flight" was shown.
Deppen is also a local military historian and has been a veteran advocate for 15 years.