June 23, 2023
One out of every six Kendal at Lexington residents is a military veteran, and on Memorial Day 2023, many gathered in Kendal Hall for a Kendal Veterans Café.
Hospice agencies nationwide, including ConnectionsPlus Healthcare + Hospice in Lexington, have sponsored vet-to-vet cafés to encourage veterans to come together and share the impact their military service had on their lives and the lives of others.
Veterans Cafés offer a variety of benefits to veterans, including:
- Socialization: They provide a safe and supportive space to socialize, share stories and connect with other veterans.
- Education: Gatherings often feature presentations on topics of interest to veterans, such as VA benefits, mental health and financial planning.
- Resources: Veterans Cafés can connect veterans with resources and services in their community, such as VA hospitals, mental health clinics and employment assistance programs.
- Support: They can provide veterans with help from other veterans with shared experiences.
It has become a tradition at Kendal at Lexington for veterans on campus to gather each Memorial Day and Veterans Day, thanks to a small informal leadership team composed of residents Bob Harrison (Army 1966-1969), Joe Skovira (Army 1966-1968), Carroll Comstock (Army 1967-1971) and Dennis Bussey (Navy 1965-1969).
“Those of us who are veterans here at Kendal served at a time when military service was not always respected,” said Bob. “Fortunately, that has now changed, and being recognized for our service and the freedom and quality of life in America that we protected reinforces our pride.”
This year’s Memorial Day Kendal Veterans Café included refreshments and a presentation by Col. Scott Brannon, Professor of Military Science at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), about changes that have taken place in Army ROTC and military service. Participants were able to ask questions about current student life and offerings on the VMI campus.
Also in attendance was LTC Harold Dennis, Battalion Executive Officer for VMI, Wes Womelsdorf, representing ConnectionsPlus Healthcare + Hospice, Todd Pegg, Kendal Director of Facilities Services and a veteran (Virginia Army National Guard), and the following Kendal residents: Bob Bradish (NG Army), Al Carlsson (Navy), Dennis Cropper (Navy), Tom Gosse (Army), John Harralson (USAF), Bob Harrison (Army), Bruce King (NG Army), John Knapp (Army), Jim Moore (Army), Jim Naylor (USAF), Bill Schellstede (Army), Joe Skovira (Army), John South (USAF), Wick Walker (Army) and John Winfrey (Army).
“We really enjoy reflecting upon and sharing our experiences in the military and the impact it has had on our lives and the lives of others,” said Bob. “The Memorial Day event was a great opportunity to share pride while knowing that ‘All gave some and some gave all!'”
According to 2021 census data, the U.S. is home to about 16.5 million military veterans, making up about 6.4% of the nation’s adult population.
At Kendal at Lexington, 43 out of 253 residents have served in a military branch, making up about 17% of the campus population, including Independent Living, Assisted Living and Borden Health Center residents.
Kendal at Lexington is grateful for the veterans who call KaLex home. We are committed to honoring their service and sacrifice.