Hospice staff provide support for Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall exhibition in Maryland

Categories: Community Engagement.

Compass Regional Hospice’s trained grief counselors, as well as a social worker and a chaplain, were on hand to provide counseling services to those who sought them as part of the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall exhibit’s visit to Easton.

Grief Services staff included Rhonda Knotts, grief counselor and supervisor of Grief Services with Compass Regional Hospice, who is certified in level-two advanced trauma treatment through The Ferentz Institute; Wayne Larrimore, a grief counselor with Compass Regional Hospice, who served with the U.S. Air Force for 21 years; Ann OConnor, a grief counselor with Compass Regional Hospice; social worker Sharon Loving; and Compass chaplain Nancy Greenwell.

“Ultimately, what our counselors could offer, was a compassionate ear,” Knotts said. “We were definitely not there to think that we could fix anything or erase what has already been seen and felt, but be a source of comfort for those who visited, remembered, and in many instances, took a trip back. We went because we owed it to our veterans for what they have done for us —  to be there and walk with them if they needed us to.”

Jackie Davis, executive director of the Mental Health Association of the Eastern Shore, said the planning committee bringing the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall to Easton anticipated thousands of visitors. She said because of the strong and often still raw emotional reactions the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C., can evoke, she knew there might be times where visitors to the traveling wall would need someone to talk with. She said the most important criteria was that those people be trained to provide that listening ear. The MHAMDES was coordinator of the effort to bring the trained staff to the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall during its visit in Easton.

“It added another level of support,” Davis said. “I just want to emphasize how thankful we are to Compass Regional Hospice, whose staff took up almost half of the hours (of the counseling needs). We didn’t know what to expect (when planning the event), but we wanted to be over-prepared as opposed to under-prepared.”

Davis said Compass Regional Hospice was one of the only Mid-Shore nonprofit agencies to provide trained grief counseling services during the event. Other agencies that provided counseling services included the Salisbury Outstation of the Department of Veterans Affairs; Eastern Shore Mobile Crisis Services, which provided overnight on-call services; Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps; and several trained individual counselors who volunteered their time.

According to a news release from E.E. Streets Memorial Post 5118, the mission of the Vietnam Traveling Wall is to honor United States service men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War, by bringing a 3/5 replica of the original monument in Washington, D.C., to VFW Post 5118 in Easton.

“This was so that the family and friends of those memorialized on the Wall, along with everyone on the Eastern Shore, could experience the overwhelming impact of this memorial,” the news release stated. “The event is a solemn presentation of the Vietnam Wall Memorial, and as such has an air of reverence, honor, and respect.”

The Wall was open 24-hours a day, daily, during its time in Easton. The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall stands as a reminder of the more than nine million military personnel who served on active duty during the Vietnam Era, the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice — those who lost their lives serving the United States during the war.

There are 58,315 names on the Wall. Of those names, 208 listed their hometowns as being on the Delmarva Peninsula. Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam, less than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today.

Throughout the Wall’s stay in Easton, volunteers read the 58,315 names aloud. The wall was escorted into Easton via motorcycle motorcade on May 31. During the Wall’s time in Easton, each Mid-Shore county was represented during special recognition ceremonies that honored those service men and women who lost their lives. 

Compass Regional Hospice – Care on your terms
Compass Regional Hospice is a fully licensed, independent, community-based nonprofit organization certified by Medicare and the state of Maryland and accredited by the Joint Commission. Since 1985, Compass Regional Hospice has been dedicated to supporting people of all ages through the challenge of living with a life-limiting illness and learning to live following the death of a loved one. Today, the organization is a regional provider of hospice care and grief support in Queen Anne’s, Kent and Caroline counties. “Care on your terms” is the promise that guides staff and volunteers as they care for patients in private residences, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and the residential hospice centers in Centreville, Chestertown and Denton. Grief support services are offered to children, adults and families of patients who died under hospice care, as well as members of the community who are grieving the loss of a loved one, through The Hope and Healing Center.

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