Focused on Mississippi: Visiting the Veterans

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Although our veterans are always remembered in monuments and holidays, sometimes they also end up being forgotten, too. But one group is taking special interest in them.

The Nursing Home Ministry based in Jackson has a single purpose, visiting residents of nursing homes who get few or no visits. They’ve been general in their outreach so far. But now, they are zeroing in on veterans.

“Gone, but not forgotten.” That phrase kept repeating in Jim Marshall’s mind as he thought about our veterans. He is the Director of Pastoral Ministries with the faith-based Nursing Home Ministries.

“These veterans, for Memorial Day and Veterans Day they are gone but no forgotten. And we praise them and honor them and respect them as we certainly should with the wreath laying at the Arlington Cemetery and the parades and the flags and all of the salutes and salutations and that’s should certainly be,” said Marshall.

But Marshall says one day the phrase sort of inverted itself and shifted from veterans who have departed to the ones who are still here with us. Many are in nursing homes now.

“But here are these guys They’re forgotten, but they’re not gone. They’re still here.”

The Nursing Home Ministry for years has identified residents, and there is a great number of them who never get a visit from anyone aside from staff and other residents.

“80% of the residents in nursing homes today never have a visit from anybody,” stated Marshall. “They have outlived their caregivers and sometimes their families.”

“But they don’t have outside contact with people who can come in and tell them what’s going on. Ask them some things. Get them to tell some of their stories,” said NHM volunteer Allen Carter.

“You’d be surprised at the things they tell you. They just open their hearts up,” said NHM volunteer Eva Hayden.

Veteran Bobby Jones gets lots of visits from his family, but says he knows of some lonely people where he lives, particularly one long time friend.

“And her son hadn’t seen her but twice since she’s been here,” said Jones.

Walter McKee said, “Aw that makes me feel real good when somebody comes here to see me and everything. And it brings joy to me and everything.”

McKee and Jones are both veterans and family sees them almost daily, and the Nursing Home Ministry stops by frequently, too. But for other veterans, it’s a lonely time in their lives.

We are who we are today because our veterans stepped up and did what they did, when they did it. And the Nursing Home Ministry is at least one organization that wants to see to it that they are never forgotten because of it.

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