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Local Veteran and Carris Health – Rice Hospice Volunteer, Ron Andreen, named Veteran Volunteer of the Year

Published in Hospice Services, Media Releases, Volunteer Services

Lieutenant Colonel Ronald D. Andreen, age 88, began his military experience in December 1949 and was honorably discharged in March 1988, for a total of 38 years in the United States Army. A large part of his military role focused on management and training of military personnel. Andreen spent the first 20 years in the National Guard, where he was stationed in Germany during the Korean War Conflict, followed by 18 years in the Army, full time. But it is now where he is being honored as a different type of hero, 2020 Veteran Volunteer of the Year by the Minnesota Network of Hospice and Palliative Care (MNHPC).

Ron Andreen and Jessica Hausauer, Executive Director of the MNHPC

His passion for Veterans brought him to Carris Health - Rice Hospice where he could support, recognize and honor others for their military experience and sacrifice. Since 2012, Andreen has helped eased the transition to end-of-life for fellow Veterans, donating more than 600 hours of his time and touching the lives of more than 400 patients and families.

Perhaps the most significant part of his volunteer role is performing recognition ceremonies, dressed in his military hat, presenting a pin and certificate, and providing a final salute to the dying Veteran. He understands that many Veterans have never received formal recognition for their services and that this seemingly simple act could mean a more peaceful death.

Ron Andreen with Hank Hagland and Wayne Emberland from the Willmar American Legion Honor Guard

Every year, over 100 hospice programs are asked to nominate a volunteer from their program. Andreen was chosen by a committee at MNHPC for this year’s award.

"I can think of no one more deserving of recognition as a local military hero and selfless Veteran Volunteer," said Carris Health Volunteer Services Manager, Deb Van Buren. "He remains a true gentleman and an inspiration to others, but he is far too humble to seek self-recognition. Ron respects his fellow Veterans and empathizes with their sacrifices and losses. He understands his duty to serve his country, both in a military capacity and as a citizen."

When asked about the patients he has served, he had a simple response of, "I have had so many wonderful patients and each one has been special to me." A true gentleman, indeed.

L to R: Jessica Hausauer, Executive Director of the MNHPC, Rick Fagerlie, Willmar City Council member, Mary Beth Potter, Director of Carris Health – Rice Hospice, Deb Van Buren, Carris Health Volunteer Services Manager, FRONT: Ron Andreen

One of those special patients was a Veteran who, according to his wife, had been too weak to talk. After Andreen walked in, the Veteran spoke for three hours, sharing his military experiences. Ron credits it to being a good listener and his own military experience that allows him to relate to other’s needs.

"He takes his commitments very seriously and represents Carris Health - Rice Hospice, and Veterans as a whole, in such a positive way," said Van Buren. "We salute you - Ron Andreen."