JACKSON TOWNSHIP | Al Boren, 67, will make the trip of a lifetime today to Washington, D.C.
The Vietnam War veteran and his wife, Janis, will take a trip to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, through Forever Young Senior Veteran Wish.
He served in the Army in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969 and achieved the rank of sergeant. Al Boren served on the front lines in the infantry, and fought in the Tet Offensive.
Al Boren rarely talks about his experience in Vietnam, but the Jackson Township resident is now terminally ill battling lung cancer. Since his service, Al Boren has wanted to visit the memorial, but illnesses kept him away.
He had a stroke at age 36 and, in 2010, his lung was removed because of cancer. In 2011, he had cardiac problems, then developed Lewy Body dementia. In October, on his birthday, he learned the cancer returned and affected his right lung and lymphatic system.
"When we realized the cancer was back in October, I asked Al what he wanted to do and how he wanted to treat the cancer, and he said he didn't want more treatments, just wanted to die at home," Janis Boren said. "At that moment, I knew we had to go on this trip."
With the help of the Porter County Visiting Nurse Association and Forever Young Senior Vet Wishes, the trip is becoming a reality.
With her husband's poor health, the family knows not only will this be his last trip, but they are aware he could die during the trip.
"I don't have time to wait," Janis Boren said. "We have to get him on this trip now. We gotta go, and we know what could happen, and we are prepared for that."
Janis Boren said the VNA has been amazing.
"They have thought of everything," she said. "I don't know what we would do without them. They are helping get everything ready with portable oxygen, supplies and pain meds."
Janis Boren said her husband is well aware of the trip and is excited and also knows what could happen.
"We've lived with this for four years and he's ready," she said. "He has made his peace."
"I'm excited about the trip," said Al Boren. "I've never had a chance to be there and I get that chance. The VNA is taking good care of everything for us."
The trip will include seeing Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and, if he's up to it, perhaps a trip to the White House on Saturday.
"He needs closure to the war, and healing," Janis Boren said. "When he came home, he did not get a hero's welcome. When we return on Sunday, we will be getting a motorcycle escort home. He is so patriotic. He will love this."
Janis Boren said her husband always wanted to visit two places -- the Grand Canyon and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
"We saw the Grand Canyon in 2012 with our grandchildren and now he will be able to see the memorial honoring military servicemen," she said.
Stephanie Paduch, hospice social worker with the VNA, said this trip will be what both need.
"They both need closure and this will give them both comfort," Paduch said. "This was an entire team effort with hospice and the VNA. We are all behind him and rooting for him on this trip."
*Editor's note: This has been corrected from an earlier version.