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I know Veterans Day is supposed to be about honoring our nation's living vets and I was hoping to celebrate today with my favorite veteran, but my sweet brother passed away at home last week after battling years of health issues.
We were so excited since Dallas VA recently placed him on a transplant list, but sadly his system was too overwhelmed ~ esp. with all the major problems and setbacks he had the past 3+ years.
He and Mom returned home from the VA last Tue night and he died early Thu a.m. peacefully in his sleep at home in his favorite chair.
Mark had many talents working several years during and after high school as a landscaper, carpenter and electrician.
He then joined the Navy in 1986 attending school at the Naval Station Great Lakes (IL) to become a Fire controlman. (FCs are trained in the repair, maintenance, operation and employment of weapon systems on destroyers from first detection through firing the weapons, to defend ships against tactical threats or to make offensive strikes against hostile targets.)
He served on the San Diego based USS Harry W. Hill that deployed during 1990-1991 Gulf War serving in both Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Mark was also a Navy Rescue Swimmer and traveled the globe on deployments on DD-986.
After retiring from the Navy he went on to work a few decades as a master electrician on commercial projects including various hospitals in central Texas. His love of carpentry allowed him to also build several homes for himself and family (including his various dogs) over the years.
In 2016 Mark almost died at the Dallas VA hospital while in CCU, and he spent a lot of time at the VA from then on in CCU more often then not.
Mark felt very at home around his fellow veterans and loved to walk up and down the halls to visit with them, handing out candy and hot chocolate mix – esp. during the final 8 weeks of his life.
Each person was dear to him and he made a huge effort to remember everyone’s names from doctors and nurses to janitors and his veteran brothers and sisters.
My Mom was by his side constantly and our family was very supportive and visited him at the VA whenever he was up for company or if a serious complication arose.
Several VA nurses told Mom that the hardest part of their job was to see how the families give up on and neglect these poor vets.
One nurse even went on to say when one dies and they call the family members to tell them in the middle of the night they curse them out and it just breaks their heart.
Our family cannot thank the personnel at the Dallas VA enough for their kindness, compassion, prayers and love they showed Mark (and Mom) over the past several years.
And when Mom wasn't by Mark's bedside she often stayed at the Fisher House on the Dallas VA campus.
And Father Tim of Holy Cross Catholic Church (and VA Chaplain) was kind enough to visit and pray with Mom and Mark on his weekly rounds at the VA, as well as performed Last Rites on Mark a few times over the years when things were tenuous.
And while we are sad Mark is no longer with us and will miss him immensely, we are glad he's no longer suffering and he'll live in our hearts forever.
Thank you Bubba for reminding us that our veterans are so special and deserving of our gratitude and attention.
To those who reading or sharing this, please consider volunteering at or visiting your local VA hospital ... or support a local or national charity like USFRA.org or others who have programs specifically for our nation's heroes.
We love and miss you Mark and thank you for your service and sacrifices.
~ j & B & family