Volunteer shares a 'common ground' with veterans

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This is part of a series of stories about local volunteers from the Stow Senior Commission. A Volunteer Fair is planned for June 15 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Heritage Barn, 5238 Young Road in Stow.

Scott Croghan has certainly gone where even angels may fear to tread. Serving in the Air Force for 24 years before he retired, he piloted a C130 in such war-torn places as Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. When he first enlisted, he was a combat engineer. Eight years later, he went to pilot school with his love of flying. Area residents may have seen his plane, for Croghan has flown the C130 in local air shows in Youngstown, Cleveland and Cuyahoga Falls. Now in retirement from the Air Force, he is a commercial pilot for Southwest Airlines.

As busy as he is, Croghan spends time volunteering in the Veteran to Veteran program sponsored by Summa At Home Hospice, making visits to veterans in the hospice program. He says, "I respect the time and sacrifice they gave to keep our country safe and it is a small way I can express my appreciation." The veterans he visits are primarily in patients' private homes and in extended care facilities throughout Summit County. He informs the family of the time of his visit so members can be present. He presents each veteran with a certificate with the veteran's name which stresses the importance of the sacrifices each made so Americans can all have the freedom we have today. He also presents a special pin.

Croghan says that the most important part of these visits is sharing, for as a veteran himself, he and the honoree have a common ground. He says that often vets have repressed much of their service experiences, especially the unpleasant ones, and have not shared their stories with families. This ceremony is so meaningful for it allows the veteran to talk about his experiences in the service and allows him to express his feelings. Those family members who attend often are hearing these stories from their loved one in detail for the very first time and are given a window through which to view the sacrifices he made. He says that the families are so grateful for learning things about their loved ones they never knew. Some families record Croghan's visits so they can preserve these memories . Sometimes the veterans are not conscious, but he still performs the ceremony for the families. He stresses that the veterans and their families are all so appreciative of the visits.

Croghan also takes an active part in Honor Flight which is a non-profit organization whose goal is to take all living World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the World War II Memorial. Often there is an urgency to this mission due to the age and health of these men and women. Croghan says he is proud to relate that Southwest Airlines is invested in the program. Each volunteer on the flight sponsors two veterans and is responsible for the cost and for the care of them. Often, a veteran will need to take oxygen or need to be pushed in a wheelchair. He has chaperoned several times and has also piloted the plane on one journey. The cost for a volunteer is around $400 per trip.

Croghan says he feels that volunteering is important. He reminds everyone "to look at what we have and what others do not have."

Croghan also received a special gift from volunteering. His friend, who was director of volunteers at Akron Children's Hospital, introduced him to the woman who would become his wife. She was a volunteer at Children's, going from room to room making cookies for the children with a portable oven.

The Stow Senior Commission is hosting a volunteer fair June 15 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Heritage Barn. Twenty agencies needing help have reserved a table. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.

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