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Red Cross to honor 2 women who help mountain veterans, loved ones in hospice care


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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — The Charles George VA Medical Center serves veterans throughout their lives. Many, eventually take their last breaths there.

Suka Chapel-Horst and Kaye Lynn Hall founded the No Veteran Dies Alone program in Asheville, out of respect and compassion for those in hospice care.

“It is an honor,” Hall said. “Because we get to be with the vets at the most crucial point of their life, at the end of life.”

They work with the VA’s Hospice and Palliative Care team to support veterans and their families. Chapel-Horst and Hall created an 11th hour call list that includes devoted hospice volunteers.

“Even though they’re not awake, they’re not aware they’re in the final stages, just to be there with them and hold them in peace and help them in that crossing,” Chapel-Horst said.

“Being there, so they’re never alone,” Hall said. “The family can rest, the family can go with the knowledge that we are there.”

Chapel-Horst and Hall, the News 13 Persons of the Week, honor veterans with a quilt in a ceremony with loved ones by their sides.

“Every quilt has a flag on it and a little card that says it comes from the volunteers,” Chapel-Horst said, showing us a few examples.

The quilts become cherished mementos at a somber time.

“They’re thinking about their life and what they did and what happened,” Chapel-Horst said. “And we want to be a part of that and appreciate them for the service that they have given to the country.”

The two women will be honored at the Red Cross Salute to WNC Heroes, which will be held virtually June 10.

“Both women are humble leaders who are optimistic people finding solutions in times of crisis,” their nomination form reads. “They pursue the goals of their group with passion without letting their own needs or interests get in the way … Chapel-Horst and Hall have truly impacted the lives of our veteran community.”

“I just count it as a privilege and an honor that the Red Cross is allowing us to partner up with the VA and be there in the crucial hour, that final hour,” Hall said. “No vet ever dies alone, think about that. We’re there 24/7.”

“This honor, which is a tremendous honor, wouldn’t even be possible if we didn’t have the volunteers that carried it through,” Chapel-Horst said.

Both women have relatives who served our country. That makes this effort even more meaningful.

“When that family can look at you and say thank you,” Hall said. “And you get to hear the stories as they’re meeting the end of life moment, so you get to hear their stories, their truths.”

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, volunteers haven’t been at the VA in more than a year. They look forward to resuming their work with the No Veteran Dies Alone program.

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