With Memorial Day approaching, many are gearing up for patriotic ceremonies, luncheons and special events to honor their vets. Some will host big celebrations in November around Veterans Day, too.
One senior living company, Belmont Village, commissioned a photographer to shoot portraits of veterans, including many Belmont residents, for a glossy coffee table book. Many communities boast galleries of photos of residents, taken in their early 20s or teens when they served in the military. C. C. Young Senior Living in Dallas even honors spouses, hosting an annual tea for widows of veterans.
“We do all this to recognize their service and to thank them,” says Shannon Critchlow, manager of volunteer and transportation experience at C. C. Young. “We are very fortunate to live in the world we live in, and that can be directly attributed to these veterans.”
Before it’s too late
Part of what drives senior living staff is a sense of urgency. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about 558,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II were alive in 2017. Hundreds die every day ─ the VA estimated 362 per day in 2016. Veterans who were 18 in 1945 are in their 90s; those who served in Korea are in their 80s.
“We don’t want to miss the chance to hear their stories while they’re here, before they slip away,” says Nancy Sanders, executive director of Belmont Village of Turtle Creek. Belmont Village posted photos of 25 of the community’s veterans on its Wall of Honor in 2016; nine of those have since passed away.
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