More than 40 veterans partnered with a Cape Cod, Mass., nonprofit to deliver flowers to fellow veterans last year.
Flower Angels USA provides flowers to residents of nursing homes and hospice facilities year-round. But in the week leading up to Veterans Day, volunteers delivered flowers exclusively to veterans.
In 2016, Flower Angels representatives and about 35 veteran volunteers visited 325 veterans. At least 45 veterans volunteered in 2017, making more than 400 deliveries.
Butch Banis, a member of Post 9917in Brewster, Mass., volunteered with Flower Angels for the first time in 2017, visiting four facilities. The last location Banis visited had a “large number” of veterans with dementia, and some were “passive” when Banis and others tried to engage them in conversation.
“When we started to sing, ‘God Bless America,’ almost all of them became alert and sang correctly along with us,” said Banis, who served 22 years on active duty, including a tour in Vietnam from December 1971-72 and four-and-a-half months during Operation Desert Storm. “That is a real heart-tugging experience.”
Roy Thomas, a member of VFW Post 2578 in Hyannis, Mass., has volunteered with Flower Angels since 2016. Thomas, who served during the Korean War from September 1952 to September 1953 as a high-speed radio operator with the New York National Guard’s 101st Signal Bn., said he thinks the veterans they delivered flowers to were “pleased to see another veteran take time to recognize their service.”
Deborah O’Connor, a member of the Flowers Angels USA board of directors, said the veterans delivering flowers introduced themselves, stated their branch of service and spoke about their service. In turn, some residents discussed their own military careers.“It was really so moving because a lot of these veterans don’t want to talk about their service,” O’Connor said.
Over a three-day period leading up to Veterans Day — Nov. 7, 8 and 10 — more than 20 stops were made. O’Connor and founder Suzanne Carter identified all of the veterans in their partnering facilities and reached out to local veterans to assist with deliveries.