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Shut In program helps combat veteran loneliness

Alycia Douglass

Published on February 17, 2017

Bernadette Heagle demonstrates a typical care package provided by the Cornwall Royal Canadian Legion's Shut In/Hospital Visitation program.

©Alycia Douglass/TC Media

CORNWALL, Ontario – Every month, Bernadette Heagle visits local nursing homes as part of the Cornwall Royal Canadian Legion’s Shut In and Hospital Visit program. There, she and fellow Legion members distribute care packages to the area’s 60 veterans as a small gesture of kindness.

Enclosed in the care packages are biscuits, chocolate, and an assortment of other goodies.

Heagle’s father was a veteran, and she credits his legacy for her current involvement in the lives of veterans. “They mean the world to me – all of them,” said Heagle. “Whether I know them by name or not, it’s something that’s very important to me.”

While the program has been in existence for over 20 years, Heagle has been actively leading the cause for 10.

“When I took over the role, there were 27 veterans, and now we’re up to 60 – we were up to 70, but we’re losing them now,” said Heagle. “It’s one thing that I’m very proud to be a part of.”

With over 7,500 veterans in long term care facilities across Canada, Heagle says that vising these facilities is a simple act that means a great deal to local vets.

“They really appreciate it,” said Heagle. “They love to just sit and talk – a lot of these veterans have no more family, and they’re lonely.”

With the number of Canadian veterans steadily dwindling, Heagle says that she feels lucky to serve those who served their country.

“We don’t care if they have Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or any other illness,” said Heagle. “We visit – it’s so important to visit these people.”