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Blog: Stories and Insight

Hospice Provides Veteran Good Days at Home



Jim and Ave Borie

At the age of 18, Jim Borie followed the family tradition of serving in the military. Enlisting as a Marine, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. For 6 years, he tended to A4 planes and became a jet mechanic captain on Squadron 214. Late in 1997, Jim received the life-altering news that he had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Mark Borie, Jim’s youngest brother, rose to the occasion and donated his bone marrow to Jim. As a result, Jim was able to enjoy a full live, while coping with complications stemming from the disease and treatments. Jim returned to New Jersey and in 2007, he reconnected with Ave, his neighbor and childhood best friend. Ave and Jim picked up where they had left off as kids, fell in love, and got married.

Samaritan Veteran-Centric Care

Throughout the years Jim had managed his symptoms and complications from treatments, but in 2020 his health began to decline. Arriving at The Samaritan Center at Voorhees on a Friday due to an allergic reaction, Jim and his family were immediately put at ease by Samaritan’s care team and the veteran-centric approach to care. Therese LaTorre, LCSW, Jim’s social worker, inspired by a seminar about moral injury, was open to having meaningful conversations about Jim’s military experience. Through these conversations she recognized that Jim could be eligible for VA benefits due to his service at Camp Lejeune. The water at the camp had been contaminated leading to illnesses like Jim’s Non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Therese’s research and expertise allowed her to dig in and begin the process to get Jim the benefits he deserved.

Knowing time was crucial, Therese began helping Ave start the rigorous application for the Dependency and Indemnity compensation benefit. Therese connected with the VA’s office to assure that no detail was left behind that might delay the submission. When it came time to submit the 105 pages of forms, a storm came and knocked the power out. Determined Therese decided to fax each page of the form over the next hour.

Ave was in disbelief at Therese’s dedication to Jim and their family. It was reinforced by the knowledge and expertise Therese provided, and the heart she showed for all the small and little things.

“This would never have happened without Theresa,” said Ava in gratitude. The VA declared Jim’s death connected to his service and allowing his family to receive benefits.

Good Days At Home

Ave Borie knew her husband to be a reserved man with a beautiful smile. His peaceful presence was admired by his fellow marines with whom he felt comradery. In spite of the decline in his health, the core of who he was did not change. Jim communicated to his care team his desire to receive care at home. They listened and made arrangements to make it possible. This opened doors for Jim to enjoy good days with his children Jessica and Jim Jr., his beloved rescue dogs Coffee and Peter Parker, and his lovely wife Ave. In between enjoying peaceful porch sits, he was able to soak in rays on a beautiful day fishing on the lake with his son.

Jim’s care team at Samaritan also honored him with a Veteran’s ceremony, and arranged bed-side visits with a Catholic priest. Ave knew they were in good hands because Therese and the rest of Jim’s care team provided consistently wonderful care. She appreciated the hands-on attention, and the respectful communication of crucial decisions relieved the entire family. Everything the team did provided expert care for Jim with dignity, and provide him good days with his family.

Honoring Jim’s Life

Jim was 56 when he passed at home with his family around him. Jim was able to live his “best life” until the very end, because for him that meant “having his family around all the time,” said Therese.

His family honored his life in his childhood church in N.E Philadelphia at a Wednesday service. The baritone tones of Todd Thomas, professional opera singer, filled the cathedral. Outside in the pavilion a color guard and honor guard service was held. The beautiful service commemorated the beautiful soul who remains in the hearts and minds of those he loved.