Lewis and Sarah Violanti standing next to each other

Lewis and Sarah Violanti, not all that long ago.

Lewis Violanti, a 92-year-old Veteran of the Army Air Corps, was dying. During the final three weeks of his life, he chose the hospice unit at the Buffalo VA as the place where he wanted to live out his final days.

His wife Sarah is glad he did.

“What a place,” she said. “He was treated like royalty. They took care of him like he was their father. It made me so happy.”

Sarah said she and her daughter Gail and her son Bruce were there with Lewis every day and witnessed first-hand the care and attention he received.

“Every person there was so kind to him,” Sarah observed. “One time I saw a nurse talking to him very low. Then she put her hand on his cheek. I have no idea what she was saying, but she was saying something to him, talking very softly.”

Then one day something unexpected happened, something you don’t normally see on a hospice unit.

“On July 28 I mentioned to a nurse that the following day was our 65th wedding anniversary,” said Sarah. “The next day the staff gave us a beautiful party with a cake. They gave everyone there, and whoever passed by, a slice of cake. And they gave me a dozen roses! Boy, was I surprised. I was absolutely flabbergasted.”

“They made a terrible time very tolerable,” said Sarah’s daughter Gail. “They made it bearable. Especially toward the end, they were coming in to check not just on my dad, but on me. Every half hour, someone would come along and ask if I needed anything.

“And every night when I had to go home, I was afraid because I didn’t want my dad to die alone. But they told me don’t worry, that he’d be okay, that they would check on him. So when I left at night I felt comfortable, because I knew he was going to be okay, that he wasn’t going to be alone.

“He was treated like royalty. They took care of him like he was their father.”

“He was a good guy,” she added. “He was a sweet man. And he was very proud of being a Vet.”

Lewis Violanti died on August 4 with his daughter and two nurses at his side.

“When he died they gave him a procession,” Gail said. “They had all the Veterans wheeled out into the hallway and they were all saluting him. He would have liked that.”

She added, “When I retire I’m going to volunteer there at the Buffalo VA. It’s just a nice place. I want to see if I can help them. My dad would have liked that.”

Learn more here about hospice care at VA.

Share this story

Published on Nov. 5, 2015

Estimated reading time is 2.4 min.

Views to date: 82


  1. Don Nichols November 7, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    I am a Vietnam veteran and have been receiving all of my medical care from the VA Medical Center in Austin, Texas and the VA Hospital in Temple, Texas for the past 6 years. Contrary to all of the information in the press, I have received exceptional medical and mental health care and in a very timely manner. In fact, it has been the most complete and comprehensive care I have ever experienced. Additionally, I have only had to wait one time for a scheduled appointment and that was due to an emergency. I could not be more pleased with my care and my care givers in Austin and Temple. I have always been treated with the utmost respect and concern. My disability claims also processed rather quickly. When I first started that process I had extremely low expectations that I would see any results and I must say I was very pleasantly surprised as I received very positive results in a reasonable time frame. Thank you to all of the VA health care and mental health care providers for your dedication to taking care of me and my fellow veterans’

  2. Stanley Scott Autry November 7, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    I have had the very best health care with the VA in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Barbara Roach is a real gem of a person and takes excellent care of me. Thank you VA for all you do!

  3. Zima Griep November 6, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks for the service dogs allow in the therapy areas as “comfort animals”. These “fur famiy” are saving lives by allowing our vets to unstressed and see a caring face in this animals. No melds can do that and it cost less to keep a dog than abuse of meds, due to depression . Some meds do promote this side effects. Wake up VA, give the vets a journey of love , care, and a chance to rejoin a meaningful life again !

  4. Anthony November 6, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Can anyone help me I received a part award from the va 4 months ago for loss of use of my hands, I filed this claim 3 years ago. I received my letter for increase 4 months ago I have yet to receive my back pay or new rating from speical monthly compensation ? How much longer do I have to wait. We as veteran have to comply with every time line that the VA makes, why don’t they have to.

  5. Anne Toy November 6, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I am very grateful for the fantastic care & respect shown to my husband during his final days on this earth. My husband Robert Toy was a Retired Chief Petty Officer.This November 19 th would have been our 4th wedding anniversary .Robert (BOB).served 3 tour’s in Vietnam & was proud to have served our country for 23 years while working with all branches of the military. His liver cancer diagnosis came on very suddenly & was untreatable. His last week’s were spent with the VA hospital in Temple TX & then the VA Hospice in Waco Texas. Both places took excellent care of him & did everything possible to make him comfortable. The entire staff doctors aides nurses .cafeteria housekeeping etc were amazing. Even the office staff was helpful & caring to both of us. I would like to Thank the all from the bottom of my heart..Everyone hears all the bad things & problems but never much about the positive. Well I don’t think I would have made it through all of this without them. They sure honored their promise to take care of my sailor. .hugs to all

  6. Caroline Jenkins November 6, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks for publishing this heartwarming story! I wish more people could see the truly good things that happen at most of the VA facilities across the country. I’m giving my Hooray to the Orlando VAMC. THEY ARE THE BEST!

  7. George Stamas November 6, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    My dearest friend Crysta Casey spent her last days at the Seattle VA Hospice and she was well cared for, and wrote her poetry right up the the last evening before she died. The respect and care that the doctors and staff at the VA show my fellow veterans is very much appreciated by this vet.

  8. Duane Da`Vein November 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I have had nothing but the best treatment from the Daytona Beach, FL VA clinic. If non VA clinics and hospitals were run the same way as the majority of VA ones, far more people would be treated for less money than what we have now.

  9. Duane Da`Vein November 6, 2015 at 11:56 am

    I have had nothing but the best treatment from the VA, unlike what you hear on the News. If non VA hospitals were ran like VA hospitals and clinics far more people would get treated for far less money than what is happening now.

    • Melanie King November 7, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      As a wife of a veteran of Vet Nam I would love for the VA hospitals to have home-like hospice rooms. What a wonderful
      idea for those that are 50 miles from their love ones. I fear the time that will come when my beloved husband faces his time.
      He has already stated that he wants to go to the VA hospital when that time is near. Please take this under advicement for the family of the vet. Thank you!

  10. John Jerry ScotsRoss November 6, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Dear Fellow Veterans,

    When my much younger wife had her life ripped away by non-Hodgkin’s, enlarged, diffuse, b-cell lymphoma, the Simon Cancer Institute affiliate of Indiana University at Indianapolis had a policy which permitted me to remain with her, in one of their home-like hospice rooms. I could not bear the thought of Marilyn dying without me holding her in my arms. Indeed, I was able to lie in bed alongside her as she drifted out of and into unconsciousness…until on the third day while lying across my lap and cradled in my arms, she took a slow and extraordinarily deep breath and then expired as her heart beat its last gasp of life and her eyes rolled back as she no longer had any need of her body.

    Now I am a widower father of three wonderful daughters, ages 9, 16, and 17. Through them I am still able to see an important measure of their mom and my terribly missed wife, Marilyn.

    I feel so very blessed and privileged that I was there for her until the very end. I believe that the VA would take a step toward a higher plateau of caring for their Vets if they would permit any spouse of a Vet to have the same honor as I was bestowed by IUPUI’s Simon Cancer Institute.

    Respectfully yours,

    John Jerry ScotsRoss

  11. gilbert.berg1818@gmail.com November 5, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Orlando, Fl VA does a great job, Everyone there cares for us Veterans..

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • A claims representative has been assigned to Little Rock VA hospital satellite office to assist Veterans, spouses and survivors with their VA benefits needs.

  • Housebound Veterans are winners when they combine virtual and in-home health care visits. Susan Gallagher receives hybrid care, both virtual and in-person.

  • In 2022, VA set a goal to house 38,000 homeless Veterans. With only a few months to go, how are we doing?