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Memory care facility in Overland Park sparked remembrances of military service with Veteran's Day ceremony

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Posted at 8:08 PM, Nov 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-11 06:40:49-05

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Morningside Place in Overland Park, a memory facility specializing in dementia and Alzheimer’s care, held a special Veteran’s Day ceremony on Friday.

The message, a thank you, brings back memories for the veterans receiving treatment at the facility.

“The vets that live here, they do have memory problems, but you know that they never forget,” said Keith Melick, Clinical Service Director at Morningside Place and a retired veteran.

Photos of uniformed men and women lined a table Friday at Morningside Place..

Nine people were honored for their service.

Melick told us about many of the residents he’s come to know.

“David was an ejection seat mechanic pilot for the fighter planes, Lindell was in Air Force intelligence listening in on Russia, their history, and Connie, our only female here, was an Air Force nurse,” he said.

Melick said the photos and the stories help bring back memories of accomplishments and honor.

He reminded everyone at the ceremony that despite not remembering every detail, “everyone that puts a uniform on needs to be recognized for what they did.”

Melick will tell you he's learned the importance of talking to patients about their time in the service.

“I interact with several of the residents as they come in" Melick said. "That’s one of the first things I try to connect with, if they are a veteran, because it helps them relax moving in. I’ll use our most recent move in, Mr. Perez, as an example,” he said.

Albert Perez served in the U.S Army.

“Perez found out exactly what I did for the Army because I worked for special forces,” Melick said. “He goes ‘You came to Fort Gordon, Georgia and I drove the general and I told you tough boys what to do.’ And we have said that the whole time he’s been here. It wasn’t the years I was in, but that’s the memory of his and every time I see him, I say, 'Hey Sergeant' and he says, 'Do what I say' and I say, 'Yes sir.'”

Perez’s family can get on board with that.

“We want to be here so all of our veterans, and especially their spouses, understand that we understand the sacrifice they’ve made,” said Perez’s daughter, Anita Paredes. “I do realize when I think about my dad’s service it would have been a possibility for my dad not to come home.”

“A great saying is, 'A soldier doesn’t fight for what’s in front of them, they fight for the love they left behind,” Melick said. “Morningiside is really big on taking care of not only the ones who live here, but the staff and their families too.”