Fargo VA Health Care System
Paying respects: Honors Escort
When a Veteran passes away within the confines of the Fargo VA Medical Center, acts of honoring their service and sacrifice take on many forms.
In one form, the Fargo VA invites friends and family of Veterans who have received care here for a Palliative Care Memorial Program. The program, held twice a year, features music, reflections, a reading of names, and the lighting of a candle in memory of each Veteran who has passed.
Now a new form of honoring Veterans who have passed is in practice at the Fargo VAMC – the Honors Escort.
The Honors Escort, conducted by volunteers from Veterans Service Organizations, is a group of individuals who escort Veterans after their death through the corridors of the medical center to the morgue in the facility.
“Ensuring our Veterans receive the recognition and honor they deserve is one of our highest priorities at the Fargo VA,” said Karinn Davidson, Voluntary Service Chief and Honors Escort committee member. “We’re always striving to find ways to honor Veterans for their service to the nation. The Honors Escort procession allows Veterans, family and employees the opportunity to pay final honors to our fallen heroes.”
The Honors Escort volunteers drape the Veteran, transported by gurney, with the flag of the Veteran’s branch of service. Then an announcement is made throughout the medical center, notifying the facility an Honors Escort will take place.
When an Honors Escort is transporting a Veteran, people in the area of the procession stop, stand aside, and render honors by placing their hand over their heart or saluting as appropriate until the procession passes.
According to Chris Skjold, a carpenter at the Fargo VA and Honors Escort committee chair, the Honors Escort maintains the highest level of professionalism and bearing, all in the name of honoring and recognizing Veterans’ service and sacrifice.
“The Honors Escort not only pays respect to the Veteran, it lets those who the procession passes know that a hero is coming through and they deserve in death the respect they earned in life,” Skjold said.