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Congressional Record Statement in Recognition of George “Ray” West

M. Speaker, today I rise to recognize the Dream Foundation’s new “Dreams for Veterans” program. As we pause to commemorate Veterans Day, I would like to acknowledge their unique and invaluable service to terminally-ill military veterans.

Dreams for Veterans is dedicated to serving terminally-ill veterans during their time of greatest need. They are the first national program specifically serving and honoring these individuals by fulfilling their final dream. Over the past year, Dreams for Veterans granted more than 100 dreams to veterans and are on track to double that number this year.

This spring, the Dream Foundation, which is based in my Congressional district, helped my constituent George “Ray” West realize his final dream of traveling with his family to Yosemite National Park. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. West at the “Dreams for Veterans” inaugural ceremony in Washington, DC earlier this year.

Mr. West is a US Navy Veteran who served between 1944 and 1946. He was stationed first in Sampson, NY and later in Utah and Nevada. He eventually settled with his family in my hometown of Santa Barbara, CA.

Mr. West and his wife Jean first visited Yosemite on their honeymoon in 1950. The couple loved Yosemite so much that they have celebrated each anniversary by returning to the park. Ray had been diagnosed with heart disease and leukemia when he contacted the Dream Foundation to help his family travel to Yosemite at least one final time.

Each day, more than 1,800 of our nation’s heroes die, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all American deaths. In addition to giving dream recipients and their families the opportunity to make the most of the time they have left, a final dream also improves their end of life care by addressing the emotional and psychological needs of terminally ill patients and those of their loved ones and caretakers.

The Dreams for Veterans program allows recipients the opportunity to reconnect with their former military service and provides a unique chance to reconcile memories and achieve a sense of closure. This one-of-a-kind program engages the military community by providing opportunities to refer applicants, contribute resources, or volunteer as Veteran Dream Hosts—volunteers who participate in Veteran-to-Veteran Dream deliveries.

The Dream Foundation is a leader in our community and has touched and inspired so many during its 21 year history of delivering final dreams to terminally ill adults. They fulfill more than 2,500 final dreams every year, working with hundreds of volunteers and more than 600 hospices and health care organizations nationwide.

I yield back.

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