Man who served in WWII, other veterans receive pins during ceremony at Clearwater nursing home

Pinellas County

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – A handful of veterans, including a man in his 90s who served in World War II, received pins and other honors at a Clearwater nursing home on Veterans Day.

Empath Health and Suncoast Hospice presented veterans at HarbourWood Care Center with pins in a ceremony on Thursday.

Veterans were pinned by a Marine veteran, who is also a member of the Marine Corps League and Empath Health volunteer, Rudolph Fountaine.

“For me today was a special one, because you had a man in his 90s who had been in the Eighth Air Force, and then there was a Marine, and then there was an Army guy from Vietnam. So it brings up a lot of emotions, it brings up emotions about people I served with, things like that,” Fountaine said.

“Yesterday was the Marine Corps birthday and that’s a happy celebration, it’s also a sad celebration, because you remember… The people who are no longer around. So yesterday and today are stressful days.” 

Fountaine has been volunteering for Empath Health for the last eight years and does a variety of things outside of the Veterans Day pinning ceremony, including delivering veterans certificates in their homes, presenting the flag in the Honor Guard during parades and more.

He served in the Marines from 1964 to 1968. He served overseas in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966 and enlisted in the Army Reserves from 1972 to 1994, serving in intelligence.

Suncoast Hospice Veteran Community Partnership Specialist Trudy Beeler presided over the ceremony on Thursday. She is an advocate and point of contact for the veteran community in Pinellas County. Beeler works with the Veterans Affairs healthcare system to determine who in Pinellas County could benefit from their services and programs.

“We recognize every veteran who comes through our service program, such as Suncoast Hospice, and we utilize our veteran volunteers to pin them with a special Empath pin, present them with a certificate to thank them for their service,” Beeler said. “But oftentimes what we like to do is partner with community organizations and facilities, such as Harbourwood today, to recognize their veterans who may not be currently utilizing our services.”

This is the second time Beeler has worked with Harbourwood to recognize veterans and she said it’s a rewarding experience to see some familiar faces within the veteran population.

“To see some new veteran faces and just take time out of our day to let them know that their service is appreciated and valued and just to give back to them to let them know that they’re valued and just to give back to them to let them know that we appreciate their bravery and their service to their country,” she said.

To learn more about Suncoast Hospice veterans programs, visit their website.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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