Around New England

Oxygen-Needing Veteran Tries To Make Sure No Veteran Dies Alone

Roger Leger, 73, visits dying patients in the hospice unit of Veterans Affairs hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts while hooked up to an oxygen tank himself.

Leger, of Salem, had recently read five chapters of a book about former Boston Red Sox outfielder Dom DiMaggio when a patient unable to speak “slowly reached his right hand out from under the bed sheet, grabbed Leger’s left hand, and squeezed it,” according to The Salem News.

Leger is a volunteer in the hospital’s No Veteran Dies Alone program. He has been the only other person in the room when four patients have died.

“He says a prayer, stands up, gives a military salute, and walks out of the room,” the Salem News reports.

Leger served as a plumber in the U.S. Air Force, including two years in Vietnam. Exposure to asbestos while in the Air Force and while working as a pipe fitter after he got out contributed to lung problems requiring him to carry around an oxygen tank. Exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam may also have contributed to his health problems, which include liver damage.

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