Veteran Testimonials

"From the bottom of my heart thank you very much. Your visits made all the difference in the world."

Sergeant Major Louis Roundtree (dec.)
The most highly decorated Marine of all time
3 Purple Hearts, 3 Silver Stars, 4 Bronze Stars

"When I first came here (the VA Hospital) all I did was lie in bed. I wouldn't talk to anybody and I never got up. I feel better and now I look forward to physical therapy and appointments. I know it was the Twilight Brigade that made it happen."

Francis "Frank" Vorland
Army Veteran

"The hardest thing about dying is being left alone. I felt betrayed and abandoned. You made me feel appreciated and proud. God bless you."

Lt. Walter Foreman (dec.)
Tuskegee Airman
Congressional Gold Medal

Volunteer Testimonials

"I learned one thing from Dannion's example - there are enough hours in the day to volunteer time to Compassion In Action. We all need to recognize the importance of committing ourselves to finding that time rather than making excuses for why we cannot. A smile on the face of a lonely veteran makes it all worthwhile."

Lt. Col. James Zumwalt, Board of Advisors

Being a Twilight Brigader has completely changed my life. I'm not sure how else to explain it.

Sean Murphy, Active Volunteer

Training Testimonials

"In all of my years of nursing (26 years) I have never before been through any course that was more thought-provoking. The Twilight Brigade training helped me get in touch with my own feelings around death, hospice and loss, and taught me how to put myself in my patients' place or position. I've done years of hospice with family and friends. I think I can do my job so much better now." Liz Pizzuti, Broomfield, CO May 3, 2013
(Registered Nurse 10 years Army National Guard, 10 years acute rehabilitation)
"The training was fabulous. I would like say that I would recommend this training for everyone I know. I know very much about the subject matter, and yet, I learned so much more during the training. It was a wonderful experience, I am still in awe of the meditations, the participants, and certainly not least of all the trainers. This training should be standard for anyone in the health field be it allopathic or alternative. " Sally L., Lakewood, CO
"The training was a powerful experience in so many ways. Also, the love is definitely present in the manner the interactive exercises were presented. Thank you for making it possible for me to attend and to be in the company of other loving individuals that are choosing to make a difference in the world with this line of offering and service." Barbara B., Aurora, CO
"What an amazing experience. Thank you for introducing me to the world of hospice care. You were right. The weekend was life-changing for me." Anne, Englewood, CO
"I have been studying for about 24 years now light work and spiritual growth. And I have to tell you that was the most powerful experience I have ever had at a training group." Jennifer B., Boulder, CO
"I am changed forever. My husband will be doing the November training. Bedside work may not be something he can do, but I explained that it is more about living than it is about dying. There are no words to describe my gratitude to all of you for this remarkable gift." Lorraine, Los Angeles, CA
"Wow! there are hardly words to express my deep appreciation to each of you and your incredible caring hearts that you brought to this weekend. I feel physically as if our hearts are melded in our love and desire to serve. I have so far taken your hearts to bed, on a beautiful walk in the country today and as I am listening with friends who are having hard times. No doubt about it.... love is transforming! Teresa Dunwell, Lafayette, CO August, 2011
""Enlightening and spiritually powerful. If you have been in hospice as a nurse, chaplain, or CNA or are just thinking about volunteering in hospice, you will find The Twilight Brigade training one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever encounter. The Twilight Brigade training prepares the newcomer to hospice and refreshes those who have been in hospice for years. It is life changing." Grant Fleming (Hospice Chaplain 15+yrs.) Denver, CO


The following letters tell about personal experiences of Twilight Brigade Volunteers. If you have a memorable or poignant experience you would like to share with us, please send it to Bill@TheTwilightBrigade.org. Your submission may be edited to protect confidentiality and/or for brevity.
(Letter From Jill King, a Flight Attendant and TTB Volunteer Coordinator for the Northern Virginia/DC Affiliate, to Sandy Hatfield, TTB National Training Director)

December 2, 2012

Dear Sandy,

I wanted to share with you how your and Bill's work and love for TTB's mission has touched a veteran I met recently. Two days ago, Saturday night into Sunday morning, I had an Army veteran on my red-eye flight, who was part of a group of seven former military.

About 90 minutes after take-off one of the men began to experience what I recognized as PTSD symptoms after he came through the almost-dark cabin and into the back galley asking me for help. "William" is a 50-year- old paratrooper who fought, killed and "did unthinkable things," I "would never want to know about," in Nicaragua. He talked, he cried, he apologized and he repeatedly expressed his shame for being "so weak" and his thankfulness that my flying partner and I understood (I alerted the crew to what was going on) and let him stand in the back galley.

William had "that look" in his eyes I'd read about in Deborah Grassman's book, Peace at Last ~ Stories of Hope and Healing for Veterans and Their Families... and the book was in my jump-seat 4 feet away! I listened and spoke to William the way Deborah Grassman said to, validating his feelings and reassuring him that many men return from combat feeling the same way and don't exhibit outward symptoms until a trigger sets it off. He said he thought he was going crazy, and he needed to stand in the galley and wanted to try to "get a grip and his reality back." He started to fall and crumple up right in front of me, so I hugged him and he held onto me, crying softly. He said that that was the first time "those thoughts, fears and visions of being forced to jump out of a C-2 into a Nicaraguan jungle" had hit him since being discharged. The triggers were the noises inside the cabin caused by the 757 engines when they accelerated. He was seated right over the wings too.

William stayed in the back galley for most of the five-hour trip and promised me he would go to the VA hospital in Virginia Beach and get treatment for his PTSD. He said that PTSD might explain his temper and other issues he's had since leaving the Army.

That's a lesson learned and an experience I would never have known how to handle had you, Bill, Kathy and Deborah Grassman not been a part of my life! So thank you from me... and from William!


E-Mail from Thomas Edes, Director, Home and Community-Based Care, Dept of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC

Hi Dannion. That is a fantastic and exemplary story. I really appreciate seeing this, and mostly appreciate all that you and your colleagues are doing that has such a profound impact on our nation’s Veterans. One Veteran at a time.

Thank you,
San Diego Training, February 2012

What three of our beloved volunteers experienced after the TTB
training ended Sunday evening.

Dear Ones,

There's been something that I've been wanting to share with all of you since
Monday morning. I'm just now having space in my life, and a working
computer to connect with each of you.

Ok, so a group of "TTB graduates" stayed after the training ended Sunday
night for a tour of 3N with Mitch and George.

Here's how it played it out in Mitch's words:

"The tour went off well, but with some surprising shifts. George and I took
the little group up and discovered that Mr. L had just passed, Mr. V had
passed earlier in the day. The charge nurses were OK with us being there
and I checked in with the group, both apologizing for the level of reality
we were confronting and to see if everyone was OK. The tour was simple and

We were invited to join the staff line that would form in response to a call
that went out for staff to stand in line symbolizing an honor guard from the
hospital that would form later when the body would be moved to the morgue.
George and I encouraged others to go on home and he and I alone agreed to
come back later after the body was prepared.

We walked the group through the Healing Garden and then out the front of the
VA. George and I returned to 3N and the body was not yet prepared or
bagged. Staffing was limited and the vet was large so Ken, Geoge, and I
(all three TTB Volunteers) assisted in various ways with the bag forward --
helping the transport LVN place the body on the morgue cart, draping the
flag, calling out the soldier's name and passing, and sounding the chime
while George saluted, and the gurney rolled out of view around the corner to
the morgue.

What a privilege and unimaginable way to wrap up a training. Had we not been
available, there would have been no line as (RN) was too moved to speak and
sound the bell, salute, and perhaps even the flag may not have been used
given the circumstances. I had no idea that some vets don't even receive a
salute. I was and we were so grateful and moved that George was there to
bestow this honor."

Spokane, 2011

Hello, All,

After we completed our Twilight Brigade training back in July here in Spokane, I wanted to move forward and begin the process of applying what we had learned.

First step was to register as a volunteer with a VA Hospital. It was relatively simple, just took some time - about three weeks in all. Talked with the volunteer coordinators at the VA, filled out some paperwork, got fingerprinted and TB tested. So now I am an officially credentialed VA volunteer. I wish I could say my name badge picture is awesome - it isn't. But who cares.

When I went back to the VA for my second TB test, I figured that since I already had my badge there was no reason not to stop by the hospice unit, so I did.

I called and found out which building the hospice was in. When I got there, I introduced myself and one of the nurses was kind enough to give me a brief tour of the hospice facility. It was 11:30 am and most of the residents were gathering in the lunch room, so we went there. As we walked into the lunch room the nurse pointed out a rather frail resident, sitting quietly at a table alone. The nurse explained that even though the he sat with his eyes closed most of the time and seldom spoke, that he was too restless to lie in bed. However, he enjoyed being wheeled about in a wheel chair. Both of the nurses on duty had spent time doing just that during the morning and their legs were tired.

So I sat down at the table with the him. His eyes opened while eating lunch, seemingly scarcely aware of my presence. Then after lunch, to the great relief of the nurses, I took over as his charioteer. I pushed his wheelchair up and down the hallways, and for a brief visit to the garden outside. As we wheeled about, I got to learn first hand about the alarm system that triggers when residents wander outside the ward (hmmm... funny how that buzzer keeps going off as we walk around). The nurse gave me the code to turn off the buzzer.

He only spoke once during the hour we were wheeling about - I slowed down and stopped to look at something and he simply said, "keep going." Other than that, my silent passenger seemed to enjoy the trip and didn't care that we covered the same hallways a dozen times. Movement was what he cherished, and it was fun to give him that sense of freedom. If it was me in that chair, I can tell you that I would want that same experience of freedom and traveling.

After about an hour, he spoke again, saying that he was tired and wanted to go to his room. The nurse got him into bed. As the nurse and I were standing on either side of the bed, he opened his eyes wide and stretched out his hands to us. His face brightened and he said "hold my hand," and we did. He then said that he had lived a long life and had no complaints. After over 80 years of living, he said he had done many things in his life. "The doctors told me I have cancer," he said, "and I don't know how long I have, but I've had a good life." It was a touching moment.

Two days later, I stopped by the hospice again and my new friend was sleeping, so no chariot driving work that day. I walked to the end of the hall and saw an elderly gentleman, sitting in his room watching TV. I said hello and asked if I could sit and talk for a while. He said yes. I thought about and asked a few 'open ended questions' and did some breathing to connect, and I listened. He is a Spokane native who has lived in other places, but returned because he liked his hometown best. He was in the Coast Guard and traveled a great deal of the Alaskan coast and was in awe of it. As a worker, he helped dismantle parts of the Farragut Naval Center on Lake Pond Oreille in the 1950's. And he remembered an old rail line that went from Spokane to Coeur d'Alene many years ago that he enjoyed riding. He related all this and more in just 20 minutes.

There was something I noticed while talking with him. His face brightened in a way similar to my other resident as he spoke. He enjoyed relating his experiences, and I enjoyed hearing them. For someone in their 70's and beyond, the shear quantity of experiences they have had in life is astounding. And in that quantity, there is a great deal of quality.

Both of my new residents were willing to connect with me. Later that day, I thought about them both and felt as though they were relatives. It was a realization that was a bit surprising. So my journey has begun. I look forward to finding and connecting with other 'unrelated relatives' that I haven't met yet.

Thanks Ronnie and Kent, for an excellent training. Thanks Frank for your willingness to be a mentor (see you in few days). And thanks to you Dannion for helping so many people pass from this world in peace, and creating a pathway for the rest of us to help others.

Ricky Gibson-Schwob
Los Angeles, 2000

I'd like to tell you about my experience with the Twilight Brigade workshop last month. Although I'd recommend it to anyone who might ask, I don't believe that everyone would have the same take on it that I do.

It's been 23 years for me in the healing business; most modalities of touch and energy work which I happen to be very good at. I worked with my first terminal patient about 18 years ago and probably a dozen terminal patients since that time. The hospital is a familiar place as I have spent time there as a patient as well as being a therapist of sorts to many other people who were trying to recover from an assortment of different ails. The strangest thing I noticed when working with the dying is how comfortable I felt. Even in the presence of weeping, rotting flesh, it is as though the Spirit curbed all revulsion that I might have felt since I generally have a rather weak stomach.

Back to the Twilight Brigade workshop - I've been asked not to tell about the exercises that are done so it is difficult to say how well this program is put together. Firstly, you are made to think about a way of life that you are not accustomed to. Secondly, you are invited to think and feel about situations that most people are not familiar with. Thirdly, your own fears are addressed which leads to unexpected other emotions that were blocked by that fear. Forth is instruction and education. Fifth on my list is how gentle this whole process is. Compassion in action is so very appropriate in describing the unfolding of inner knowledge here.

There is no question in my mind that I was under Divine guidance in sitting with or treating very sick and terminal patients. There isn't enough space to tell all of my stories about that. Even so, I learned very much more about death and dying during this workshop. Many of my silent questions were answered about my own experience and also the understanding of some of the other people who were also in attendance.

I think I understood something about emotional intimacy that I didn't quite grasp before. I saw changes in energy around people. I saw muscular changes in faces and postures. I could easily go around the room and pick out who would be great at this work and who wouldn't be (in my opinion). Although I can say that each patient I worked with changed me in some way. I hate to cry; buddy, I do not like to cry in front of people but my heart center opens as easily as an old screen door. Sometimes I have to lock myself away for short periods of time to gather my own love and appreciation to give to myself; it is present for others, it absolutely must be present for me and my family.

There was a young man in this Unity's first Twilight Brigade class. He was swept away only three weeks after being considered the most "excited to learn" student. Although I only knew him from across rooms, he had a glow around him that was so nice. He hugged and spoke to everyone like his own brothers and sisters. His name was Chris and his parents wanted to present a memorial award to the student most like their young son in every subsequent class. I was the first to receive this award. It was surprising, considering I'm almost twice as old as Chris was. The people who decided that I was to receive this award said it was because I was excited about the work and had a joy about me. I have a way of appreciating people and how they came to be the person in front of me. I feel the love and compassion in people. That joy they saw was a reflection of what I saw in their faces. I feel so proud to be in the Twilight Brigade. I feel so proud to know my new friends and embrace, even deeper, my already-made friends.

~ Anonymous

In Memoriam:

So long (not goodbye), dear friend.

Mike Wise, Marine, Vietnam Vet and President of TTB's Birmingham Chapter, made his sudden transition Monday, February the 13th, 2012. Mike's tireless efforts established, coordinated and grew the Chapter to more than 200 members. A more dedicated, involved and active volunteer for our Veterans will be hard to find. He was present at every meeting and training, and was helping to establish a group in Tennessee. We are honored to have had him in the TTB, in our hearts and in our lives. He is missed.