One Final Move: Retirement Homes
“I was atypical in that I held almost all of the positions you can have with the Marine Corps during my career,” says Colonel James Hecker. During his nearly 30 years in the military, Colonel Hecker served as an Officer during war, completed a sea duty, worked as a recruiter, and was the administrator for an ROTC program. While Col. Hecker enjoyed the diversity of his positions, he realized early on that a career military man needed to serve time in combat zones in order to be successful.
Having served in WW II, Korea, and Vietnam, Col. Hecker reflected on the very different public perceptions of those engagements. He says, “WW II touched everyone. Korea was marginally accepted. Vietnam was not at all accepted, and we felt that. I returned to the airport in Los Angeles after Vietnam and was harassed and spit at.” Despite some challenging moments, Col. Hecker states, “I am thankful to the military. I grew in a poor family in Southern New Jersey. Without the military, I would not be where I am today.”
The dedicated assistance of his wife, Kathleen, was also a major factor in his success. Katherine, he says, “always dealt with the time away and the moves so well. She really made it possible to have a family and be in the military.” The couple has two children and three grandchildren.
After retiring from the Marine Corps, Col. Hecker served as a nursing home administrator for 20 years. The couple had been retired for several years when they began to consider a move to a retirement community closer to their children.
Near the end of their exhaustive search, the Heckers visited Classic Residence by Hyatt, a luxury senior living community in Chevy Chase, MD. He recalls, “As soon as we got here, we just thought, ‘This is quality.’ The facility and the staff are superb in every way.”
During a pre-admission seminar at the community, the Heckers learned about the services of moving coordinators. Transitional Assistance & Design, a local downsizing, moving, and design firm, was recommended to them.
Col. Hecker admits, “We had moved 26 times in 30 years, and it was pretty evident that at our age, one more move could be too much.” The Heckers decided to meet with Susan Danick, the Owner of Transitional Assistance, based in Gaithersburg, MD, which helps seniors facilitate every step of the downsizing process.
“Within the first few moments, it was obvious that we were going to use her services. She really is an expert,” he recalls. Susie and her staff helped the Heckers with everything from downsizing and packing to planning and setting up the new home. “She made a to-scale diagram of the home that included where all the furniture would go,” Col. Hecker explains.
In addition to helping the Heckers plan their new space, Susie arranged for packers, movers, and haulers to transport all of their belongings. Her management helped the couple ensure that everything was carefully packed and organized.
In their new home, Transitional Assistance set up everything. “It was all done,” says Col. Hecker. “The closets were unpacked, and the dishes were put away. The pictures were even hung. It was really like we had already been living here.” Col. Hecker concludes, “I can’t imagine why anyone would not want Susie’s help with their move.”
After just a few months in their new community, the Heckers are thankful that they had such an effortless transition. They are still debating on which of the various community activities and programs they want to become involved in. Right now, they are just enjoying the “unencumbered” lifestyle that for them epitomizes retirement.