I worked with disabled veterans and co-workers to provide therapeutic recreation for the residents of the Iowa Veterans Home. As I stated in Des Moines, it was to enhance the lives of those veterans who called it home. I did this, and loved doing it for 30 years, for the people who served to keep us free.
Late last July my family was notified that my nephew, Capt. David Haas, who had served two deployments to Iraq and was at the time deployed to South Korea, had been killed.
David's family invited us to go to Boston to greet David's body when it returned to American soil. We were so impressed by the large number of military personnel who very carefully took David off the plane and reverently placed his body in the hearse. State troopers then drove us through Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine until our arrival at the funeral home at 2:30 a.m.
A wake was held the next day at the local high school. Two guards stood by David's casket at all times.
The day of the funeral more military ceremony to bring David to the church. People lined the streets with flags, some with tears in their eyes, as the body was carried through town. I was asked by David's parents to give the eulogy. The church was packed with more than 500 people, including the governor and a U.S. senator.
My eulogy mentioned my work at IVH with our veterans. I talked about how I had a soft spot in my heart for them. When David was carried out, his fellow soldiers saluted his flag-draped coffin.
The ceremony at the burial site was very moving and so well-done by military personnel.
It was so amazing to see how much people, whether current soldiers, veterans or non-veterans, cared about just one soldier.
The eight of us who made the trip to Des Moines on May 6 to express concerns about the leadership of the current commandant at IVH and the negative affect it is having on our veterans and the people who care for them, did so because we believe these veterans deserve to be treated with gratitude and honor. We went to ensure a good quality of life at IVH. It was not about politics. It was about our desire to help those who did so much for us.