Ceremony in Lockridge Honors Vietnam War Veteran Dale Schillerstrom

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Pictured above: Marj and Dale Schillerstrom with the EveryStep Hospice Mount Pleasant team (Jo Heidt, Jim Luder, Gordon Hawkins, Katie Smith, Suzanne Porth)

 
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Army veteran Dale Schillerstrom was honored in October with a veteran “pinning” ceremony arranged by the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Pleasant. The ceremony was held at Dale’s home in Lockridge.

Dale and his wife Marj began dating when she was a senior in high school and continued dating after graduation. As talk of marriage began, Dale was informed he had been drafted into service in the Vietnam War. “We pretty much planned our wedding through letters, because back then we didn’t have cell phones!” says Marj.

Dale served as a Specialist 4 in the Army and worked in Communications from 1959 to 1961, spending 18 months in Germany. Upon discharge, he promptly presented Marj with an engagement ring. They planned to marry that spring, but the week before the wedding, Dale’s hand got caught in a hay baler and he was in the hospital on their planned wedding day of June 18.

“The nurses wanted us to go ahead with our wedding in the hospital,” remembers Marj, but they were married instead later that summer. Lifelong farmers, Dale and Marj raised three children. “The Lord has been so good to us. He has directed our life and been the center of our home. We have three precious children that love us.” Dale and Marj also have eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Dale was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 14 years ago and Marj has taken care of him at home. This year, with his condition worsening and secondary diagnoses of heart failure and kidney disease, Marj began receiving help from the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Pleasant. “It’s security for me and any time I need them, they come out to our home. They just are so caring,” says Marj. “They’re from God – that’s just exactly it. They’re such sweet people, just like we’re the only people in the world!”

The pinning ceremony was arranged by EveryStep Hospice’s Mount Pleasant team and Marj says it was very emotional and special. “He loves the flag,” says Marj. “He’s just a farm boy who was proud to serve his country. It was the most sweet, humbling thing they could do for him.”

Because of his condition, Dale spends a lot of time sleeping. “We prayed that he would be able to stay awake for the [pinning ceremony],” says Marj.

And he did. “He was wide awake and I think he was aware,” says Marj. The ceremony was attended by friends and family, including their son who lives nearby and their two daughters who were able to stream the event to their homes in Baltimore and Seattle.

“It was precious,” says Marj.

Dale passed away October 24.

EveryStep’s veteran pinning ceremonies provide honor, dignity and recognition to veterans at the end of their lives. Family members and friends are often on hand with EveryStep staff and volunteers during the celebratory events, which include the Pledge of Allegiance, the awarding of a veteran service flag pin, the singing of “God Bless America,” a reading of "What is a Veteran," and the presentation of a certificate of recognition. Dale was also presented with a patriotic quilt made by local volunteers.

EveryStep is a nonprofit health care organization and a Level 4 partner in the nationally recognized We Honor Veterans initiative. Through its hospice program, EveryStep offers several specialized services for veterans. EveryStep’s Veteran-to-Veteran program is a special service pairing veterans who are volunteers with hospice patients who have served our country. A specialized Veteran-to-Veteran volunteer can provide companionship while talking, reading and sitting with patients. Veterans bring a unique skill set to help patients find peace at the end of life.

To learn about volunteering opportunities across the 44 counties and many communities served by EveryStep Hospice, please visit www.everystep.org/volunteer/get-started. If you or someone you know needs care or support, complete the confidential "Find Care" form at www.everystep.org/find-care. The form sends a message to EveryStep staff who then follow up with a phone call. It's a great way to start a conversation and get answers with no cost or commitment. EveryStep can connect the individual to its own programs and services that may be helpful, as well as services offered by other organizations and providers in the community.

If you are a veteran interested in volunteering your time to visit hospice patients, learn more or complete a volunteer application at everystep.org/volunteer.