08:35 AM

In Honor of Country and Service

OSF Hospice nurse joins patient on trip to recognize veterans

VetsRoll 1

Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor those who protect us through their service to our country. Particularly those who make the ultimate sacrifice. So, it's important we show military men and women how much we appreciate their commitment and dedication before they're gone. 

Coming from a family of veterans, OSF Hospice nurse Cheryl Bush understands this. So, when her patient, 92-year old Marshall Blomberg expressed his desire to attend this year's VetsRoll, she decided to go along.

Unique to northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, VetsRoll is an annual bus trip to Washington, D.C. for and in honor of veterans - as a thank you for their service, for them to visit the monuments in their honor and share the experience with other vets. 

Marshall served 16 months in the Korean War as part of the Army Engineers. Having grown up on a farm and once being known as the best welder in Rockford, he had some experience.  During the war, Marshall says the Army Engineers mostly built roads and it wasn't easy. 

"The middle of the night, why the bell would go off, we'd all have to get up, get out - raining like crazy - get in the trucks in the mud and fix the roads where they washed out, because they washed out all the time," says Marshall Blomberg, Korean War vet and OSF Hospice patient. (Question: So you've been a proud veteran for a very long time.) "Oh, I'm proud. I'll tell you something else. If I was young enough, I had to go, I'd do it again. Because I would - I would give anything for what I went through. And if I start crying, excuse me. Because this gets to me sometimes."   

Marshall Blomberg on his Korean War service

Cheryl has been taking care of Marshall and his chronic heart failure for about a year and they've become good friends. She also has been part of the motorcycle escort for the VetsRoll buses upon their return from the nation's capital. So, her excitement to join Marshall for this year's trip was almost as big as his.  

"He has been tickled pink since he knew that there was going to be somebody there that he knows," says Cheryl Bush, OSF Hospice nurse and Marshall's caregiver. "And I'm equally happy that I'm able to be part of it. And the whole veterans - I'm supportive, I have veteran sons and have been from a veteran family. And any way I can give back that's what I want to do."

OSF Hospice nurse Cheryl Bush about joining Marshall on VetsRoll

Marshall's passion for the VetsRoll trip grew as he heard from his fellow veteran friends what a wonderful experience it was. And he planned to not miss a thing. 

"Everything," says Marshall Blomberg, Korean War veteran and OSF Hospice patient. "I got film in my camera for eight thousand pictures. Does that tell you anything? So, I got eight thousand pictures I can take on that camera."

Marshall Blomberg on his VetsRoll trip

Saying "I love this lady", it means the world to Marshall that Cheryl joined him on the trip. 

For Cheryl, the excursion went beyond accompanying a friend and patient. 

"To help them make that journey through their past," says Cheryl Bush, OSF Hospice nurse and Marshall's caregiver. "Just as Marshall has mentioned, there's a lot of stuff that goes on in a war zone. And I think this is their way to work through it. And that is part of what the VetsRoll is - it's for healing. For healing and camaraderie."

OSF Hospice nurse on importance of VetsRoll

With 200 veterans, as well as nearly 100 volunteer handlers and medical personnel, the 10 VetsRoll busses returned from their four day trip Wednesday.