Our Hospice Spotlight Volunteer Reflections are shared monthly. Reflections are stories of connection and meaning, presented in the volunteer’s own words. Here is Jack Pittman’s Reflection.
“I did one particular Valor ceremony that was profound. The patient had PTSD from his experiences in Vietnam and he had cancer, which was ending his life. When the valor ceremony was over, he said, you are all veterans, I want to share this story with you. He asked his wife to sit on the arm of the recliner and to hold his hand while he reflected. it wasn’t clear that he had ever told this story before but his PTSD started with an incident while in the marines when his battalion was guarding an airbase, and a C130 (which is a plane that carries cargo) was on approach. As it came in for a landing, the plane crashed about a mile short of the runway. He saw the crash and without orders, he just took off running for the plane. He found out later that he had taken off through a minefield to get to the plane. When he went got to the plane he saw that what had happened from the force of the impact, the cargo had shifted and crushed the crew that was in that aircraft. He then went to the tailgate of the aircraft and stayed there with his weapon and watched.
And when he finally was relieved the Lieutenant asked “Why did you do that? Why did you stay there and guard people who had died?”
He said, “I did that because I didn’t want any enemy soldiers coming in and taking personal belongings from them as trophies. I kept them safe from that.”
And then he cried. That was the source of his PTSD and he never got over that. The patient died a couple of days after telling that story.”
Read Jack Pittman’s Spotlight