March, 2017: Franklin Stover finally got his wish to see his wife’s grave, thanks to his Vet to Vet buddy, Jeff Reinold. Grace Stover died in June 2016. She is buried at the Southern Maine Veterans Cemetery in Springvale. Stover, an Army veteran who served in Germany in the late 1960s, trained dogs and champion race horses in his younger days.
In recent years, his health has deteriorated. Since the death of his wife, he lives alone in a Portland apartment. He jumped at the chance to talk with another veteran when members of his caregiver team referred him to Southern Maine Agency on Aging’s Vet to Vet program.
Jeff Reinold, an Army combat veteran who served in Vietnam during the late 1960’s, volunteered with the Vet to Vet program in 2016 because he wanted to help other veterans and make a difference in their lives. That’s exactly what he has done since being matched with Stover.
When Reinold discovered that Stover had never been able to travel to his wife’s grave, he decided to take him. Because of Stover’s medical issues, he has to cart a large quantity of medical devices with him when he travels. Reinold set about learning what equipment Stover needed to take and how to operate it.
After packing his truck with the necessary medical equipment, he drove Stover 35 miles to Springvale. Once at the cemetery, Reinold delivered Stover to his wife’s grave, then walked away, telling his Vet to Vet friend to raise his hand when he wanted him to return.
“I thought I should give him some privacy to visit with his wife,” Reinold said. Stover examined the grave, inspecting the site and talking softly to his wife. After a time, he raised his hand, and he and Reinold got into the truck for the trip home.
For Stover, the pilgrimage was a precious gift from a man who has become a close friend. For his part, Reinold said, “I feel blessed that I am able to visit with and help my friend Franklin.”