Terminally Ill Veterans Get Chance for Final Wish

By Leo Shane III

After honeymooning in California’s Yosemite National Park in 1950, Navy veteran Ray West and his wife, Jean, returned there each of the next 48 years to celebrate their anniversary.

Then his health began to fail, and his family had to break the anniversary tradition. When the 89-year-old was diagnosed with leukemia and heart disease in late 2014, his only wish was one more trip with his family to the park that had become “our home away from home.”

He was granted that wish in May, thanks to help from the Dream Foundation’s new veterans program, launched just before West’s diagnosis. The group picked up lodging costs for the journey and helped ease travel issues related to his illnesses.

“It wouldn’t have been possible for us to do that without them,” an emotional West said at a foundation event in Washington, D.C., last week. “My dream really was fulfilled.”

The foundation, created 20 years ago, began discussing a veterans-specific program in recent years as staff and volunteers saw an increasing number of aging former service members reaching out to their organization for help. (Read more)

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