Dorothy LeClair, an Army nurse during World War II, holds a photo of herself, left, and her husband, Carl LeClair, who served in the Army during World War II. North Country Honor Flights is transporting local veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II memorial there.
Photo by Shaun Kittle.
Sitting in the VFW during the Cabin Fever event, he looked around the room, and began pointing out people he knew from his time in the war.
“It’s funny, you know,” he began. “There’s just so many of us.”
Kimberly Bouissey, guardian coordinator for North Country Honor Flights, knows a few vets, too.
Her father was in the Airforce for 24 years, and her son is currently in the Army Special Forces.
“I’ve been a teacher for 13 years, and for the last 10 years I’ve been involved with veterans,” Bouissey said. “All of my veterans are like a family.”
Each Honor Flight guardian travels to the memorial with two vets.
“I can’t even describe the joy it gives me,” Bouissey said. “I feel honored every time I meet one. I could win the lottery and it wouldn’t fill me up as much.”
Bouissey said that getting to know the vets is also a constant source of inspiration for her.
“They’re the reason we have this country, and to them it’s just a job,” Bouissey said.
But not everyone in World War II performed the job they signed up for.
Dorothy LeClair, a former Army nurse, was stationed at the now-closed Pilgrim State Hospital in Long Island for eight months.
LeClair put down orthopedics and surgery as her choices for duty, but she was put into psychiatry because that’s what was needed most at the time.
”The doctors we had, they were not psychiatrists, they were general doctors,” LeClair said. “A lot of them were not up to doing it. When you’re delivering babies, and all of a sudden you’re in psychiatry, that’s bad.”
Most of the patients LeClair saw were only 18 or 19 years old, and she spent a lot of time talking to them, trying to help them.
She said a lot of the patients wanted to see the doctors, but, oftentimes, the doctors didn’t realize how much help the patients needed.