Ceremony in Mount Ayr Honors Korean War Veteran Joe Klejch

Joe Klejch, Jr.

Pictured above (L-R): EveryStep Veteran-to-Veteran volunteers Connie Doudy (Army National Guard), Dennis Abel (Army and Vietnam combat duty veteran), Gary O’Daniels (Army and Vietnam combat duty veteran) with Joe Klejch, Jr., Korean War veteran.

The EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Ayr honored Korean War veteran Joe Klejch, Jr., with a “pinning” ceremony held January 5, 2024, at Mount Ayr Health Care Center. The ceremony coincided with “Junior’s” 91st birthday.

Junior grew up in the Mount Ayr area and enlisted in the Army after high school. He completed basic training in Georgia and was then stationed in Japan during the war. Junior farmed near Mount Ayr after he completed his military service, and continued to do so when he could after retirement.

Married for 64 years, Junior and his wife Shirley have two children: Gary, who lives and farms near Mount Ayr and Lisa, who lives in Minnesota. They have five grandchildren and one great-grandson.

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.

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 click here. If you or someone you know needs care or support, complete the confidential "Find Care" form here. 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.