A Maine veteran keeps serving, but now in a different way

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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Some people celebrated Veterans today, the official holiday.

Others will tomorrow, the actual day. But for one man from Boothbay Harbor, every day is Veterans Day.

Dave Patch spent more than two decades navigating ships in the United States Navy, retiring as commander in 1986. Now he spends many of his days with veterans, doing much more than just thanking them for their service.

Inside the hospice unit at Togus, veterans who proudly served their country are living out their final days. Dave Patch is there to make sure they know they are not alone.

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“I think its huge. Basically they are where they are right now and it’s a difficult place to be I’m sure”, he said.

When he’s not volunteering his time assisting veterans make their way through the VA’s benefits and health insurance system, he spends his days with the hospice patients. Whether its lending an ear, telling stories or recognizing them for their service.

“From the citizens of Maine to Donald M Tully, in recognition of your honorable service during World War II”, he said, reading from a proclamation from Governor LePage.

But his most important role here is that of friend.

“This is my comfort zone. I just come in here and I feel great when I leave”, he said.

On this day he’s joined by some special visitors. Terry Seigars and her three grandchildren stop by to offer small flags, hugs and words of encouragement.

“It makes you feel so good knowing that they know they’re not forgotten and they know they are important to multiple, hundreds, thousands of people and they are not forgotten”, said Achiva Seigars, one of the grandchildren.

Terry’s father in law Frank spent his finals days at the hospice four years ago. She’s been coming back ever since to honor his memory.

“This is end of life care. So it has special meaning to us here. He was a great man, he served out country”, she said.

Dave Patch started spending time at the hospice to keep a promise to a friend who also passed away there. But the visits evolved into much more than that.

“And I realized just how important this facility was and the love and the care of the staff and I wanted to be part of that team. Essentially everyone here are my brothers and sisters”, he said.

Though his days of active service ended long ago, Dave Patch is still serving his country and his fellow veterans. Only now its in a different way, here at Togus.