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Brothers in arms among veterans honored in Hagerstown

November 08, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN -- It's never easy sending your children off to war.

During the 1960s, Violet Schroyer sent two -- one to Vietnam and another to Thailand. A third son was stationed in Korea.

But the family's military commitment didn't stop there.

In all, seven Schroyer brothers have served their country over several decades.

"We are definitely a military family," said Duane Schroyer, 62, of Greencastle, Pa., who served 22 years and 7 months in the U.S. Army. "It's always been a source of pride."

Several Schroyer brothers were among a room full of veterans who were honored Saturday morning at the second annual Salute to Veterans Breakfast, hosted by Hospice of Washington County.

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"It's our way of saying thank you to those who have served our country," said Jody Ramsey, facilities liaison for the local Hospice. "With their many years of service, they deserve to be recognized."

About 75 veterans and guests attended the breakfast at the Hospice building on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown.

"We're very thankful for an event like this," said Dale Schroyer, 64, of Greencastle, Pa., who served with the U.S. Army in Korea. "Honoring veterans is something that's kind of diminished. It's nice when someone recognizes your service."

Vernon Schroyer, 60, who served in Vietnam, said he also was appreciative of Hospice's efforts to honor veterans.

"I road shotgun on convoys with the Army," he said. "When I came home, what hurt the most, was that people were spitting on us when we arrived in New Jersey. That's something that stays with you. That's why an event like this means so much."

Also attending Saturday's breakfast were brothers Carl Sword and Robert Sword, who both served in the U.S. Army.

A third brother, Charles, who also was in the military, was unable to attend.

Carl, 84, was the first of the Clear Spring brothers to enlist, serving during World War II.

"Our mother was separated from dad," he said. "So it was kind of hard to leave her with three other children at home."

Though he was sure he would be sent overseas, Carl spent his Army years at the Walter Reed hospital in Washington, D.C., "where I had a good job and important work."

Robert, 78, said he served with the Army in Korea, and brother Charles, 71, was stationed with the Army in Germany during the early 1960s.

The brothers said they enjoyed being part of the veterans breakfast by Hospice and hoped to attend next year.

"It's been very interesting sharing this time with other veterans," Robert Sword said. "I've heard some entertaining military stories from people at other tables."

Ramsey said the mission of Hospice is to compassionately serve the community by providing end-of-life care to patients and loved ones, as well as grief support for those coping with a life-changing loss. 

Recently, she said, Hospice and the Veterans Administration have partnered "to supply the best quality end-of-life care to those who have served in the military."

In 2006, she said, 600,000 veterans died, comprising about one-fourth of all Americans who died. 

"However, only 5 percent actually utilized Hospice benefits," she said. "As part of November being National Hospice Month, we are hoping to educate veterans about the services we offer."

The breakfast included an address by Carmen Munyan, the palliative care case manager at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W. Va.

"All veterans are entitled to Hospice services," she said. "You've worked hard for your country. Now, we are here to help you when you need it."

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