Mark Finnegan of VetsRoll places the driver’s donation into the collection jar as a bagged lunch is handed into the vehicle.

By Anne Eickstadt


The Symphony Northwoods Care Center saw many visitors on Wednesday, May 26, as vehicles pulled into their parking lot to pick up a hot dog/brat lunch.

“This is an all-American hot dog and brat drive through that Heartland Hospice and Symphony Northwoods are holding,” said Meghan Wilinski, community liaison for the Belvidere/Boone County area. “All the money raised from this event goes to support VetsRoll. This is our fourth year of holding this lunch and we raise about $900 each time. Over the years we have raised $3,500. The money goes straight to VetsRoll and we have sent several vets to visit the War Memorials in Washington D.C.”

We Honor Veterans is a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. It invites hospices and community partners to join a pioneering program focused on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgment. By recognizing the unique needs of America’s veterans and their families, hospice and community, partners learn how to accompany and guide veterans through their life stories toward a more peaceful ending. The goal of the program is simple–to care for and honor those who have served when they reach the end of life.

We Honor Veterans also provides tiered recognition to partners that demonstrate a systematic commitment to improving care for Veterans. By working through the partner levels and participating in community partnerships, Partners are able to educate, engage, and expand awareness to Veterans and their families. This allows community members, including veterans, to easily identify organizations that have made a commitment to offer veteran-specific care and services provided by a competent and highly skilled workforce.

“The Northwoods community is part of the We Honor Veterans program. It is near and dear to our hearts.”

“Heartland Symphony holds these lunches for us,” said Mark Finnegan, founder of VetsRoll. “The supplies are paid for by Symphony and the lunches are given out for a suggested donation of $5. People are being very generous.

“This year’s VetsRoll trip was cancelled a few months ago to ensure our older veterans remained safe and healthy. We are still doing landmark birthday parades. We have 15 Veterans turning between 100 and 106 years old. We also have six veterans turning 99.

“One of our veterans holds a world-record in scuba diving and others still go out hunting with their kids.”

The VetsRoll trip to Washington, D.C., is planned to take place May 22-25, 2022. Veterans from 1966 and earlier or “Rosie-the-Riveters” are eligible to participate. The War Memorials in Washington, D.C., were built as tributes to the service and the ultimate sacrifice of America’s veterans.

“The American veteran is one of our greatest treasures–the men and women who answered our nation’s call, especially at times of our greatest need. At VetsRoll, our mission is to proved closure, gratitude, and respect to America’s senior-most Veterans for the incredible sacrifices they have made in the name of freedom.

“VetsRoll 2022 will mark nearly 2,200 veterans and ‘Rosies’ to have taken this memorable journey to see their memorials in Washington D.C.”

The planned tour in 2022 will include:

• National Museum of the USAF, Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio

• United States Marine Corps War Memorial

• Korean, Vietnam and Lincoln Memorials

• Arlington National Cemetery and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

• National World War II Memorial in Washington

• Surprises almost non-stop fro four days

• Welcome home Victory Parade

There is no cost to World War II, Korea veterans and “Rosies” through 1966 for this trip. (Veterans must have been active duty by Dec. 31, 1966 and be honorably discharged [with DD214] for VetsRoll purposes.)

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