On a peculiarly normal day, so normal that I can’t remember anything else about it, I sat with my grandfather in his den. As we watched an indiscriminate television program, the announcer’s voice boldly declared, “Leaders aren’t made, they’re born!” My grandfather, who I suspected was napping as he often would while watching television, rose slightly in his chair, tilted his head in my direction, and said, “No they’re not.” Sitting up a little more, he asked, “Do you think somebody can be a leader without any training?” He posed the question in such a rhetorical manner I didn’t know whether he wanted me to respond, not to mention the fact that I hadn’t given much thought to the subject. I looked over sheepishly, wondering how this conversation had even gotten started, and answered, “I don’t know.” Visibly frustrated, my grandfather sat completely up in his chair and clamored, “What do you think I’m doing with you? Why do you think I take you to town with me, take you over in the field with me, (and) take you out to work on the church with me?” Before I could even muster an answer, he interjected, “Leaders come from investment! Someone has to put something in them.”
I share this story often. It is one of my favorites regarding the wisdom and love that my grandfather showed our entire family over the course of his life. He was from a special generation. Authors and historians often refer to those born in his era as “The Greatest Generation.” My grandfather believed in hard work and service. Those were the characteristics that he considered necessary if one was to be a great leader. In his own life, he exemplified this in many ways. One of the most notable was his dedicated military service. He was a proud veteran of World War II. He served on multiple fronts, as did many of this generation. Tragically, despite their service to our nation, our military veterans are often underserved as they transition to the need for end-of-life care. Fortunately, Arkansas Hospice had the privilege of caring for my grandfather in an inpatient facility during his transition. The VA benefits he earned in service covered the cost of this medical expense. While my family is grateful for this experience, statistically minorities and veterans lag behind in end-of-life care usage rates.
Over the course of this year, I’ve personally had the opportunity to discuss hospice care and its benefits throughout the Arkansas Hospice service area. Our Faith, Hospice, and Love initiative seeks to put the hope in hospice care for minorities and other underserved communities. In the course of this work, we have come to find that one of the impediments to better care comes from the fact that many in need of service are not aware of the benefits they’ve earned. Arkansas Hospice is an organization committed to veterans. And there are special veterans benefits that you can find out more about HERE. While thinking of my grandfather on this Veterans Day, I’m hoping that we can all do more to make sure those who have given so much on our behalf, may also have the best of what we have to give.
Thank you, grandfather, and all of those who have served this nation. Happy Veterans Day.