Honoring a Hero During the COVID-19 Crisis



Major Henry “Hank” Heim planned every detail of his funeral. Similar to the funeral of President John F. Kennedy, Hank wanted his final farewell to represent valor, honor and duty with representation from active service members. For Hank, his funeral would be a love-letter to the country he honored and served.

Sadly, Hank died in early April, a few weeks shy of his 99th birthday. His passing during the COVID-19 pandemic has put a temporary hold on his funeral plans.  COVID-19 also prevented his son and daughter-in-law, who have health issues, from being with him during his final days. Fortunately, Hank’s granddaughter visited him daily, offering him comfort and support.

Hank lived at Messiah Village in Mechanicsburg. As his health declined, he received nursing care and support through Homeland Hospice. Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

“As I learned more about Hank, I knew we must do something to honor him, ” says Hannah Miller, BSN, RN with Homeland Hospice. “He was an inspiration and true American hero.”

Hannah and her team decided to purchase an American flag to drape over Hank’s body after his passing. Knowing the challenges currently facing small businesses, Hannah contacted Ace Hardware in Lemoyne and described the circumstances. The team at Ace went into action and found a flag. They insisted on donating it after learning about Hank’s remarkable service to our country.

Hank was born into a poor, coal-mining family. At age five the family moved from Trevorton, Pennsylvania to Wiconisco, a small town in Dauphin County. When he wasn’t in school, Hank helped his father in the mines. His adolescent years were fraught with challenges. Coming from the poorest family in town, Hank was often the subject of ridicule at school. His high school classmates voted Hank “least likely to succeed” because of his circumstances.

“These words stayed with my father,” says Tom Heim, Hank’s son. “They didn’t defeat him, rather, they made him more determined to succeed.”

At 17, Hank was working in the mines when he was trapped in a cave-in. His father worked furiously through the shale to save his son. This near-death experience ended Hank’s time in the mines. Soon after, Hank joined the U.S. Air Force.

Hank was stationed Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii the morning of December 7, 1941, when the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked the Pearl Harbor Naval Base and neighboring Hickam Air Force Base. Hank witnessed the fall of friends and brothers in arms.

As the U.S. fully engaged in World War II, Hank wanted to do more for his country. He noticed a poster advertising the need for pilots. Hank asked to enter flight school and was told he would never pass the test because he was “just a high school kid” and not a college graduate.

Hank was determined to become a pilot and wouldn’t be deterred. He completed flight school and was the first student in his class to solo a flight. Hank was one of two non-college graduates to successfully pass the course.

“My father was used to being underestimated,” Tom says. “Time and time again, he proved people wrong.”

Hank became a B-17 bomber pilot completing 78 missions in North Africa, Sicily and Germany. At the time, most pilots completed an average of nine flights before they were shot down. When the Korean War broke out, Hank flew the B-29 bomber for 51 missions. His courage was second to none.

Following his time in the military, Hank returned to a quiet life in New Cumberland with his wife and two children. He went on to work as a construction foreman for Bell Telephone for 30 years.

Hank’s assimilation to family life was seamless and very much in line with other soldiers of his generation. He never spoke about his military experience or shared stories of his flights with his children until he was approached to speak at a local high school.

“A friend of mine was a history teacher and asked my dad to speak to his students,” Tom recalls. “My mouth dropped when he began to speak. I couldn’t believe what my father had experienced.”

As Hank began opening up to his children, they learned about the many friends he lost in the military and his near-death experiences as a pilot.

“It’s a surreal moment when you realize your father has shaped American history,” Tom adds. “He is every definition of a hero.”

In his retirement, Hank spoke to countless high school students bringing the realities of war into the classroom. He spoke to the students with warmth and grace, never wanting to frighten them, merely sharing the often unspoken perils of war.

Hank was a member of the Central Pennsylvania World War II Roundtable and was featured in a documentary produced by PCN on World War II veterans. He also shared his story with local news stations and newspapers.

For his valor, courage and service to our country, Hank received the Distinguish Flying Cross, the highest honor bestowed by the Air Force. He is featured in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. He also received two Purple Hearts and two Presidential Unit Citations in addition to countless accolades for his heroism.

During Hank’s final days he found comfort in music. While his right foot was paralyzed due to a result illness, he kept perfect time with his left foot to John Phillip Sousa’s military marches.

“I’m so proud of my father,” Tom says. “As a father, husband and American, he was remarkable in every way.”

Godspeed Major Heim.

To learn more about Homeland Hospice, please call (717) 221-7890.

Words of Wisdom: Green Thing


“The elders are the history and mirror of the living past. Study them to brighten your life and future.” ― Ehsan Sehgal

In Celebration of Earth Day …

Please enjoy this reprint of wise ponderings from those we hold dear and near.

Checking out at the store, and older lady was told (by a younger cashier) that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have the’green thing’ back in my earlier days.”

But how did the older generation live without the “green thing?”

Back then, without the “green thing,” milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles were returned to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

Grocery stores bagged groceries in brown paper bags that were reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for  school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Plus, kids were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

Without the “green thing,” people walked up stairs because there were not escalators or elevators in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

Back then, baby’s diapers were washed because the throw away kind didn’t exist. Clothes were dried on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really DID dry clothes back in the early days.

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

Back then, families only had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because there were no electric machines.

When an item was fragile and had to be sent in the mail, people used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, folks didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power.

People exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

They drank from a fountain when thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the “green thing.”

So no, no “green thing” back then … but why not adopt some of these old habits and live a green life!

Gratitude and Optimism!



Roxane E. Hearn, PhD, Homeland's Employee Wellness Program CoordinatorBy “Dr. Rox” — Roxane E. Hearn, PhD
Homeland’s Employee Wellness Program Coordinator, Health & Wellness Psychologist and Personal Health Coach


Greetings from a place of gratitude and optimism!

Until we can see normalcy on the horizon, it is important that we do not allow our health and well-being to be set aside. More than ever, this is the time to cultivate a healthy mindset!


The current state of affairs has created elevated levels of anxiety, increased blood pressure, and levels of sadness which can spiral downward into depression. Unfortunately, many are also adopting or slipping back into unhealthy habits. All of which will not only weaken your immune system, but also leave you with poor health outcomes and a deep regret once our lives return to “normal.”

No-one knows how long this situation will last. There is however one certainty.  This. Will. End.

But until then, we cannot continue to operate from a place of anxiety and fear and not expect our health and well-being to be impacted negatively.


As a Health Psychologist and Certified Health Coach, Dr. Rox helps people cultivate healthy mindsets, so they can create healthier and happier lives by taking better care of themselves and connecting with their values; no matter their current circumstances.

Homeland employees are offered wellness consults on a regular and ongoing basis, but the COVID-19 situation presents a unique challenge. Rest assured wellness consults are a huge help in keeping Homeland’s staff be healthy and happy.

Most people find they benefit from someone who helps them look objectively at their fears, look ahead and consider the bigger picture, live their values,  set goals to become healthier, and create a silver lining to all these clouds.

Living our values, demonstrating gratitude for what we do have, no matter our circumstances, could be the single most important thing any of us can do right now.

“May we all be healthy, may we all be safe, may we all live with ease and well-being.” ~ Dr. Rox

To learn more about Dr. Rox, please visit www.MyDrRox.com

Celebrating the Gifts of Hospice Volunteers



Homeland Hospice Honors its Volunteers during
National Volunteer Week, April 19 – 25

thank you to the homeland hospice volunteersNational Volunteer Week provides the opportunity to recognize the millions of Americans who provide volunteer service in communities across the country. At Homeland Hospice, 42 trained volunteers are giving selflessly to help people live as fully as possible, even when facing a serious or life-threatening illness. Even now, when our volunteers can’t visit patients and their families in the home, or provide administrative assistance in the Homeland office, they are helping our staff meet needs by making phone calls, sending cards, making protective face masks, and preparing bereavement mailings from their homes.

“Given that hospice volunteers accompany people along the journey of a serious or life-threatening illness, they serve an essential part in enabling Homeland Hospice to offer the best care possible,” Debbie Klinger, Director of Hospice, says. “By sharing their time, energy, and expertise, our volunteers bring compassion and caring to the lives of those in need and we celebrate them not only during National Volunteer Week but every day.”

It is federally mandated under Medicare that five percent of all patient care hours be provided by trained volunteers, reflecting the vital role that volunteers play in the provision of care. But even if the integration of volunteers was not required, we would still consider them critical members of our team. Our community is a better, more compassionate place because of their service.

homeland hospice volunteer cardsAs hospice staff and volunteers, the most we can do is provide an opportunity for our patients to have the best deaths possible for them. Laurie Murry, Volunteer Coordinator said, “while everyone else is running away from end-of-life, our staff and volunteers are marching forward saying, ‘We know what you’re going through. We want to help.’”

For those interested in learning more about hospice or volunteer opportunities, please contact Laurie at 717-409-8882 or lmurry@homelandhospice.org.

Meet Master Storyteller Bill Williams


Bill receives nursing care, support from a social worker and complimentary massage services through Homeland Hospice.Bill Williams is a master storyteller with a love of news, history and family. For Bill, knowing the joys and challenges of his ancestors has fueled his career ambitions and love of a good story.

Bill resides in Mechanicsburg with his wife of 60 years, Mary Jane. He receives nursing care, support from a social worker and complimentary massage services through Homeland Hospice. Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania. Each month, Bill receives 32 hours of complimentary in-home relief, which gives Mary Jane respite from her role as a caregiver.

The first chapter of Bill’s story begins in South Whales where his parents were born. Bill’s father, like most men in his family, worked as a coal miner beginning at age 12. During this point in history, most children attending public school left after fifth grade to begin working to help support their families.

Bill’s father continued mining until he turned 21 and married Bill’s mother. Two years later, Bill’s parents and uncles immigrated to Scranton where they had a base of family and social connections.

Growing up, Bill loved his history and English courses in school. From his father’s stories of life working in the mines, Bill knew he wanted to attend college to pursue his love of writing.

“Numbers won’t do you any good in life,” Bill says. “You need letters to live.”

When he was 12 years old, Bill’s parents took the family to visit Harrisburg and Gettysburg. The Gettysburg battlefields and the stories surrounding this historic location fascinated Bill. It was the beginning of a life-long love of the town and its impact on history.

In high school, Bill took a job as a copy boy at The Times Tribune where he worked an eight-hour shift three nights a week. Following high school, Bill began studying journalism at Penn State University and entered the U.S. Navy Reserve.

At the end of his sophomore year in college, Bill was reclassified from reserve to active duty and assigned to serve on the USS Coral Sea for two years.

“It was my duty and honor to serve my country,” Bill says. “To this day, it remains one of my proudest moments.”

Following his time in the Navy, Bill returned to Penn State for his junior year. He was unable to finish his senior year because of financial difficulties. During his final months at Penn State, Bill met and married Mary Jane, a math teacher. They spent their honeymoon in Gettysburg walking the grounds of the battlefields.

“From the beginning, we were a perfect match,” Mary Jane says. “My love of numbers balanced with his love of letters.”

Following their marriage, Bill began an illustrious career in journalism. He worked as a reporter and news editor for newspapers in smaller markets before becoming the Mid-Atlantic hub editor for the Associated Press in Philadelphia. Bill and his family relocated to Harrisburg in 1974 when he became bureau chief for the Associated Press at the State Capitol. His final position was director of communications for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Following his retirement, Bill focused his time and talents on writing historical novels, a play, one nonfiction book and an ongoing column for a Welsh newspaper.Following his retirement, Bill focused his time and talents on writing historical novels, a play, one nonfiction book and an ongoing column for a Welsh newspaper.

“That was when the fun began,” Bill says. “I finally had time for my love of history and writing.”

Bill has written eight books since his retirement. Days of Darkness, which sold more than 50,000 copies in paperback, tells the story of life in Gettysburg two weeks before the epic battle. Bill read countless books, diaries and accounts of daily life for the town’s residents to tell this moving story.

Among his many books, The Coal King’s Slaves, written in 2002 remains his favorite.

“I wrote it to honor my father,” Bill adds. “It brings his experiences in the mines to life.”

Bill’s latest book, Smile, is a compilation of jokes from columns he has written for a Welsh newspaper. His granddaughter designed the book cover.

“I’ve passed along my love of the written word to all our children and grandchildren,” Bill jokes. “Mary Jane remains the only fan of numbers in the family.”

In every chapter of Bill’s life, Mary Jane has been the consummate partner and supporter. She has trekked countless battlefields and has a flawless memory for the details of Bill’s books.

From copy boy to author, Bill has incorporated his experiences and those of his family into masterful and moving stories.

To learn more about Homeland Hospice, please call (717) 221-7890.

Piecing the Puzzle for Health Care Decisions



By Barbara Goll, Community Education Liaison and Nutritionist

When thinking about how we have all been affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, I was reminded of a recent holiday gift. It was a snow globe. But instead of a cute holiday scene, I see our current world inside the snow globe being shaken vigorously. White specks swirling like a tornado circling the world in every which way. At this point in time, the turbulence is strong but the specks are slowly starting to descend. What will the specks look like upon settling? When will all be quiet, calm and still? Regardless when, it is safe to say that everyone will be affected, like the specks, and changed with a new normal this pandemic has created.

At Homeland, we celebrate the commitment, resilience and resourcefulness of all the dedicated staff devoted to caring for our patients. The decisions you have been forced to make relating to patients, family and co-workers to prevent the spread of this virus have been numerous and tough. The hugs and gentle touches we have given for comfort, we are unable to give. Clear distress and emotions of patients, co-workers and families, we have tried to calm. Not to mention the personal anguish inside each of us dealing with our own situations making it overwhelming and numbing to get through each day.

Families and patients have to deal with suffering alone instead of being surrounded by loved ones at a time when it is most needed. Not able to touch, comfort, and be with someone at the end of life goes against all that hospice stands for and creates unimaginable pain.

Workshop Workbook CoverNational Health Care Decisions Day is April 16. As COVID-19 challenges loved ones from gathering and making end-of-life decisions, the need for us to inspire and educate on the importance of advanced care planning remains a priority. Major decisions for families and patients need to be made but the current restrictions in our healthcare systems make that more difficult. The layers of communication required between doctors, specialists and families to be able to make important decisions have changed dramatically. This “new normal” will affect patients and their family’s lives forever.

Buffie Finney, clinical nurse liaison, had this to say, “A lot of my time these past several weeks has been attempting to pull pieces of patient’s puzzled lives together, often leaving families and patients in tears while social workers in the hospitals are frustrated. What a help it would be to have health care decision documents in order prior to a crisis situation so families have clear direction on their loved ones wishes.”

Homeland offers a “My Reflections” workbook and workshop to accomplish end of life planning. This initiative encourages patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes whatever they may be.

As for all the Heroes at Homeland whose humanity has been unsurpassed, you are loved and so much appreciated by the communities you serve. Let’s all show gratitude towards each other no matter what role is being played for the greater good of the people we serve. Keep the much needed laughter and jokes coming. God bless us all!



Divine Presence, Purpose and Promise



Homeland Hospice Chaplain Dann Caldwell, M. Div., Th. M.By Homeland Hospice Chaplain Dann Caldwell, M. Div., Th. M.

In early April we are invited to celebrate two significant religious traditions and spiritual experiences: the Jewish Passover, a celebration of God’s freedom and liberation for the Hebrew Slaves from the Egyptian Pharaoh’s bondage; and the Christian Holy Week, which includes several opportunities to remember the last days of Jesus and His resurrection and triumph over death on Easter Sunday. The Exodus and Passover are dated by some scholars to have taken place in the 1400s or 1300s BCE (3,400 or 3,300 years ago), while the first Holy Week and Easter is now 20 centuries old or 2,000 years ago. The Exodus and Passover story can be found primarily in Exodus and Deuteronomy from the Hebrew Scriptures, and the story of Jesus and the last week of his life and the beginning of the Resurrection can be found in the latter chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark and Luke and John from the Christian New Testament.

Both these celebrations invite us to consider the Divine Presence and Purpose and Promise in our lives, any day, any time and any moment when one feels threatened by overwhelming powers.

Our Jewish friends remind us that we should ask, “What enslaves us and what holds us captive, and to whom can we turn who will provide us deliverance and sanctuary?”

Our Christian friends remind us that we should ask, “What will we do in the face of death, and can we live boldly as those who are prepared to die, so that in living or dying our Hope is found in God?”

Many traditions and other texts raise similar questions as these traditions. I find great comfort in the Hope provided from these two religious traditions and invite you to share your personal Hope with each other and me.

I share with you a couple of my personal favorites, some selections from Psalm 27 in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospel of Mark Chapter 6 from the Christian New Testament. Each one speaks to our need for courage and strength and hope in uncertain and hard times.

Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? (Verse 1)

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid. (Verse 1)

One thing I ask of the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. (Verse 4)

In the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will keep me in the shelter of his sacred tent; set me high upon a rock. (Verse 5)

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord: be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Verses 13 and 14)

Mark 6 (When a great wind, storm, threatened the disciples of Jesus…they were in a boat on a lake without him and felt threatened by the storm):

When the disciples saw Him (Jesus) walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they saw him and were terrified. Immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Verses 49-50)

Blessings to you and yours in these days!

Chaplain Dann Caldwell