The Light Brigade – Not Letting US Vets Die Alone

The Celebration of our Collaboration
August 15, 2017 marks the 20th anniversary celebration of The Twilight Brigade at its offices located on the campus of the Greater Los Angeles Veteran’s Hospital. The Twilight Brigade, guided by co-founder, Dannion Brinkley, is an organization that has recruited and trained over 6,000 volunteers nationwide to be at the bedside of hospitalized, palliative and end-of-life care veterans. Therefore, this landmark anniversary, most importantly, stands as a celebration of a grand collaboration between the dedicated volunteers of The Twilight Brigade, and the honored veterans of our mighty nation, as they were cared for by the Veteran’s Administration. The Twilight Brigade volunteers are of all ages, and come from various walks of life, while occupying many levels of the financial strata. They do not undertake this volunteer position for reward or recognition. As a caring presence at the bedside, these volunteers have been trained to help facilitate the three basics needs we all share at the end of life: warmth, safety, and closure at the bedside. The Twilight Brigade’s chapter, in Los Angeles, has done an exemplary job of this, over the past 20 years.
When asked what inspired him to co-found The Twilight Brigade, Brinkley replied, “As a former Marine, and the son of a disabled WWII veteran, I have a unique perspective on the needs of a man or woman who has served their country. You see, I was struck by lightning, in 1975, and as a result of that I literally lived through many of the emotional and physical experiences our veterans go through, either during recovery or while in the process of facing the inevitable. From knowing all of this, I took on the mission with the priceless help of my volunteers, to be there for our veterans, and their families, as together we fight the final battle.”

Dannion Brinkley, with sons Shane and Evan,
at the bedside of the late Tuskegee airman, Lt. Walter Foreman.

Continuing without a pause, Brinkley confided that, “For me, the three brightest highlights of the past 20 years are this: Number one, it amazed me to watch as the Veteran’s Administration worked diligently to incorporate integrated and complimentary care focused programs. The many successes of these programs further verified the need for their presence in palliative and end-of-life care. For example, having a Twilight Brigade volunteer at the bedside has profoundly enhanced the way our veterans are able to cope with the myriad of issues confronting them as they navigate passage from this world to the next. Secondly, I’ve found that the questions our volunteers are trained to ask truly help the veteran to find the many reasons to celebrate the life they have lived, and find peaceful closure within themselves and with family and friends. The third most shining highlight I’ve found in this work, over the last 20 years, is the personal transformation seen in the volunteers themselves, as they help veterans in this way. The Twilight Brigade volunteers repeatedly tell me about how our training, and the application of that training, has been life changing for them, too! And, I have to tell you that this work could not have succeeded for me without the loving support and understanding of my family, and family of volunteers.”

The Los Angeles chapter of The Twilight Brigade preparing to make Christmas rounds.
I can report that at this particular benchmark, with over 660,000 veterans passing away each year, The Twilight Brigade is still growing strong. They are always in need of new volunteers so, if working with our veterans in this capacity speaks to you, I urge you to contact them for more details. Please visit their website at: Or call The Twilight Brigade, Los Angeles Chapter, at 310-473-1941.

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