VNA Hospice NWI honors local veterans with weekly service

VNA Hospice NWI honors local veterans with weekly service

Since the beginning of the year, the VNA Hospice NWI has hosted a weekly service honoring local veterans in the Region who have passed fighting for our country.

Veterans Honoring at VNA Hospice

Veterans Honoring at VNA Hospice 7 Photos
Veterans Honoring at VNA HospiceVeterans Honoring at VNA HospiceVeterans Honoring at VNA HospiceVeterans Honoring at VNA Hospice

“Every Friday at noon, we go outside and we remember a local veteran who has just given the ultimate sacrifice for their country and is just no longer with us. Sometimes they are former patients, sometimes they're just community members, but we just go outside and take a moment to reflect on all that they've done for us and for our country,” said Volunteer Services Member Erica Kerkes. 

VNA CEO Bob Franko said these services are a great way to pay respects to the veterans in addition to the bigger holidays. It allows more time to think about and reflect on the sacrifices these veterans have made to help make our country the great nation it is today.

“We don't just pay lip service to how we honor veterans and how we respect the service and the sacrifices that veterans have made for this country. This is something that we do just to remind ourselves every week about it. We have Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and the Fourth of July, these big patriotic days. But in the days in between, a lot of times we tend to forget and take for granted not only what was given in sacrifice before us, but even what is happening today and the sacrifices that are being made by servicemen today. So, this is a way for us just to keep this right in the forefront of our memory and is something that's just important for us to do this every week,” Franko said.

The service on Friday, February 11 featured Sergeant Wallace Victor Koselke, a World War II veteran and Wanatah, Ind. native who signed up for the draft three weeks before his 19th birthday in 1942. By 1943, Koseike had enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to Port Blanding in Fla. A year later in 1944, Koselke was then sent to be stationed in Europe. 

Franko mentioned Koselke wrote home while he was in Europe and found it eye-opening to see just how different life could be just a few years in the army and out of the Region.

“There's a real sweet letter that he wrote while overseas. He said he was sad that he missed a wedding and asked how the family was doing and how he just wanted to be back home. But then he put this one little line in here, which I thought was an interesting story to see what it must have been like for him. He says, ‘Nothing much was happening down here, just the daily routine, the same old grind. Once in a while someone gets killed, commits suicide, goes over the hill and gets transferred to a combat unit--something of that sort to give us all something to talk about.’ You have to imagine how awful that must have been for a kid who probably never left Wanatah in his life. And here he was,” Franko said.    

After the Allies landed on Normandy in June, 1944, Koselke found himself storming across France with Gen. Patton’s Third Army. It was in a battle near the city of Metz where Koselke lost his life.

“The Battle of the Bulge was about to start on December 16, which was the biggest and the bloodiest battle of World War II, and troops and everyone already started to move to that way. Patton was concerned about wanting to conserve ammunition and resources, but they still had to go out and clear out those forts and fortifications out there, and I think that's when Sergeant Koselke was killed on November 24, 1944,” Franko said.

With all the chaos of the war, Koselke’s body was flown home in September of 1945 and was received at the United Reformed Church of Christ in Wanatah with a service from Revered Melvin Miller. He now rests peacefully in a cemetery just next to the church.

Kerkes said moments like these help us become more appreciative of the world around us while offering a new perspective on our daily lives.

“We have to take a pause, take a breath, and think about someone else for a while. I think it's a good opportunity for the community to come out, and the community's always invited, and for our staff to kind of gather as a group. We deal with a lot of illness and death and loss in our work every single day, so it's a good time to just come together and take a moment to reflect on the week and everything else that's going on too,” she said.

The VNA will be happy to feature any local veteran who has fought for our country. Franko said they read a variety of stories; some family members, some community members, and even some found online. Anyone is also welcome to attend these services to pay their respects as well.For more information on the VNA Hospice of NWI, please visit