Avera Medical Minute: Hospice patient goes on honor flight

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Gordon Thorson is happy to show off his dog tags. "It's what I received in '52, two of them, and when I got discharged they took one and I wore them all the time. I'm proud I was in the service, my kids found them again and I put them back on," said Thorson.

Honor flight attendees Gordon Thorson and RN Audra Edelin

Although decades have passed, it feels like just days ago. "It made me happy. I was alive. I beat them out of there," said Thorson.

Gordon says the war had just stopped when he got to Japan. His assignment was to fix motors of all kinds. "Being in the service teaches you something. It's a good experience," said Thorson.

Caregivers at Avera Sacred Hearts Majestic Bluffs in Yankton and social workers with the Avera at Home Hospice program saw Gordon's pride in having served our country. They wanted to do something to honor him.

Avera Hospice Social Worker Michelle Meyers says she was searching for a way to show Gordon his life was meaningful. " I wasn't really sure where to start with him and so I prayed and asked God to show me something that I could do that would help Gordon find a renewed sense of purpose and lift his spirits and so I came across the honor flight program and thought I'd give it a shot. God has put all the pieces into place for this trip and that is beyond just coincidence,” said Meyers.

Gordon is a part of a three-day honor flight. The first day is flying with other veterans to Washington DC. The next day is a tour of the wall and other memorials. Many people will honor him and other veterans, and their impact made on our country. The third day is a flight back to Sioux Falls and a homecoming ceremony.

There are many ways Avera at home hospice may honor veterans. "The pins that we give to our veterans is a symbol of our gratitude, so the pin Gordon is wearing on his shirt is from our agency," said Meyers. "We connect them to the VA for benefits and we also find veteran eligible programs like the honor flight that we can connect them to."

The honor flight is a coordinated effort between Majestic Bluffs in Yankton, Avera at home Hospice and Gordon's family. A fellow veteran and RN, Audra Edelin will be his caregiver during the adventure.

Helping arrange this adventure is gratifying for all involved. "Just being able to help Gordon find a renewed sense of purpose and do something that reminds him that he is important and his life does matter," said Meyers.