A Reason to Live

Vet to Vet Maine Volunteer Floyd Hastings.

As a volunteer in the Vet to Vet program, Floyd visits an aging veteran once a week, providing companionship and becoming a dear friend to the veteran. His first assignment, Ed, had served in World War II and the Korean War. Nearly blind, unable to walk without assistance, and severely depressed, Ed spent his days alone while his stepdaughter, with whom he lived, worked. He had endured years of living with disabilities and at the end of his life, he had little desire to carry on. He told Floyd he wanted to die.

Floyd visited Ed at least once a week for several hours at a time, encouraged him to talk about his life experiences, and showed deep compassion for him.

Floyd encouraged Ed to share his feelings with him and talked with him, gently, about his situation. Floyd also shared his own poems (one of which he dedicated to Ed). During their visits, Floyd lifted Ed out of his depression by focusing on the man’s heroic story and recording his autobiography, an enterprise that gave the older veteran a purpose to his life. Ed eagerly looked forward to the next visit and often told Floyd how much their time together meant to him.

Floyd provided information to Ed’s stepdaughter about nursing home options when Ed needed additional care. When Ed was transferred to a nursing home, Floyd continued his visits, advocated for Ed, and served as friend and companion until his death nine months after their first meeting.

When Ed died, the family mentioned him and his contributions in Ed’s obituary and suggested memorial donations to the Vet to Vet program because they so valued Floyd’s service to Ed. After Ed died, Floyd has been matched to several other World War II veterans, whom he visits regularly, reads to, and offers his friendship.