Veteran at Kaplan House Takes Virtual Tour of WWII Memorial
In her weekly visits to the Kaplan House with 97-year old patient Shirley Cousens, Creative Arts Therapist Coordinator Lisa Kynvi learned a lot about Shirley’s life and interests.
She learned that Shirley is proud of her World War II military service as a physical therapist in the Women’s Army Medical Corps and that Shirley helped open tent hospitals in England and France. She also discovered that Shirley regretted not having visited the WWII Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve always felt that I’ve been missing out,” Shirley told Lisa. “I know so many veterans who have made the trip, but I wasn’t able to get there when I was well,” she said.
Lisa decided to bring the WWII Memorial to Shirley. She reached out to her professional network and received nine solid offers to take Shirley on a virtual tour via Skype or FaceTime. The eventual tour guide, Nate, was a fellow music therapist who works at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.
Shirley was thrilled with the possibility of a virtual tour. On a brisk, sunny afternoon, Nate and Shirley said their hellos using an iPad, with Nate in D.C. and Shirley in her bed at the Kaplan House. Nate began the tour by thanking Shirley for her service. As Lisa held the iPad, Shirley leaned in to the screen to get a better view of the memorial’s 56 pillars and triumphal arches surrounded by a plaza and fountain. As Nate entered the memorial, he showed Shirley depictions of World War II in Europe, England, and the Pacific. He read each of the quotes displayed along the way.
Shirley watched and listened intently as Nate took her on the virtual tour. She had few questions but smiled and nodded often. She was able to see and identify items during the tour, many of which brought a smile to her face. When the tour was completed, Shirley thanked Nate warmly for his time and attention. “I didn’t expect so much recognition,” she said.
As a creative arts therapist, Lisa knows how powerful first-hand experience can be for our patients. “Taking a virtual tour of the WWII Memorial gave Shirley a chance to see and experience something she thought was lost to her,” said Lisa. The tour helped her remember things she hadn’t talked about in years while creating a lasting memory, Lisa added.
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You’ll be forever changed as you learn about life’s difficult final journey and the amazing patients, caregivers and staff who’ve embarked on the experience together.