‘It’s Our Honor’: Valor Team gives terminal veterans final salute
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - “It’s Our Honor” to bring you stories highlighting our local veterans every Friday of April leading up to this year’s Tallahassee Honor Flight on Saturday, April 23.
We launch our weekly series, which will air in the second half-hour of Eyewitness News at 4, featuring a group of volunteers with Big Bend Hospice.
For the past several years, the Valor Team has traveled across our area to perform a service for veterans in their care who have been diagnosed as terminal and have six months or less to live.
It’s a beautiful service, many times attended by family and friends. And for some of these veterans, it’s a chance to finally get the thanks they deserve for putting their lives on the line for their country.
It’s really something to witness. A wrong made right decades later, and just in time.
“They always said Vietnam Vets didn’t get a parade when they got home. Well, I’m going to consider this my parade,” Army Specialist (RET) Charles ‘Doug’ Pyle says.
Tears, laughter and applause. The soundtrack for a salute to service for Specialist Pyle. The latest veteran to be honored by a team that has helped hundreds of veterans like him feel the love.
“We’re trying to do the best thing we can, to make the veteran and their family happy when we leave,” Retired US Marine and Valor Team member Henry Lowery says.
They’re called the Valor Team. A group of around 30 volunteers, mostly made up of veterans.
All, still wanting to serve.
“I volunteered in a couple capacities with hospice and then learned about the Valor Team. And, of course, if I can honor our vets in any way, I am up for it,” Retired Navy Captain and Valor Team member Bruce Prevatt says.
When duty calls, they travel to every Big Bend county, sometimes with just hours’ notice.
“Well, sometimes we hear maybe a week in advance. Sometimes, it’s a few hours. It just depends on how imminent the patient is,” says Allene Roberts, longtime hospice volunteer.
Every veteran receives a flag, a special homemade Afghan, and a pin to let them and their families know their service is appreciated.
“So, this is great for us to be able to honor them in a way of just saying, ‘By golly, thank you,’” Prevatt says.
“They get a lot of great feelings out of it. And they hug and kiss on him and they cry at the same time. And it makes us feel good because this veteran, he deserved this,” Lowery adds.
“What did this mean for you as his daughter today?” WCTV’s Ben Kaplan asked Pyle’s oldest daughter Debra Morales.
“I think it as an opportunity for us to honor him and recognize him while he’s still here to appreciate it, and that kind of means the world,” Morales answered while tearing up.
For these 15 minutes, Specialist Pyle is revered for putting his country first.
A fitting salute, finally.
If you’d like to become a member of the Valor Team, go to the Big Bend Hospice website and complete the online volunteer application.
All potential volunteers must be able to pass a Level II background screening and attend a Volunteer Orientation.
Make sure to tune in next Friday for the second installment of WCTV’s “It’s Our Honor” series.
And, make sure to join us for the Eyewitness News at 4 on Monday, April 25. It will air live from Washington, D.C., sharing stories from this year’s Tallahassee Honor Flight.
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