Irving Hanback & Janelle Davenport are local residents who inspire

So many of the stories shared about veterans are about negative occurrences at hospitals or government entities regarding veterans. There are, however, many positive, compelling stories of stoic individuals and acts of kindness. This story is truly one of those tales: an older veteran and a volunteer who gives without receiving anything materialistic in return; instead she gains something more valuable than money.

Janelle Davenport

Meet Janelle Davenport. After learning about Hero’s Bridge, a nonprofit organization dedicated to veterans age 65 and older, she decided to become involved. Janelle comes from a military family — she is a self-admitted Marine Corps brat, turned Navy wife. All of her own children are military kids, just as she was. Janelle is also a licensed practical nurse (LPN) with experience in long-term care, pediatrics, home health, and hospice.  

In the spring of 2018, she became the Battle Buddy Coordinator for Hero’s Bridge. Her mission to assist older veterans reflects the core values of Hero’s Bridge. She is dedicated to improving the quality of life for aging veterans.

Irving Hanback

Now meet Irving Hanback. He grew up in Fauquier County and lived in The Plains for a majority of his youth. At the age of 17 he went into the U.S. Army where he served in Vietnam for eight years (1959-1967). During his time in service, he was exposed to Agent Orange — as were many other veterans who served in this conflict. As a result, he developed serious medical issues related to his service he now contends with on a daily basis.  

Irving has small cell cancer as well as some other difficulties. He said, “I was supposed to live eight to twelve months after they diagnosed me with cancer, but it has now been three years; I’m still on chemo from it and guess I will be for as long as I live.”

Unfortunately, in October 2017, he fell and broke his hip and faced permanent mobility issues. As a result, Irving is unable to perform outside chores he was able to do prior to the fall. Luckily, Irving was not completely alone. His granddaughter continues to help him and visiting nurses also come to his home. One particular nurse knew about Hero’s Bridge and directly reached out to Janelle to see if she would be able to help, and soon after Janelle began her bi-weekly visits with mower, gas can, and other supplies in tow each visit.

“It’s been very good to have Janelle, because I can’t keep up [with the yard] any longer. Now that I use a walker, it’s too hard to do that work,” shared Irving. During her visits, Janelle also spends some time with Irving and has developed a great rapport with him.

Janelle said, “Being able to help a veteran in need is very fulfilling and something I enjoy doing. Being able to have my family join in helping a veteran, is even better.” Depending on the day she or all of her family complete yard work for Irving. “It’s nice to know we can help him, even if it’s just mowing the lawn; it’s one less thing he has to worry about. I enjoy taking breaks to go inside to talk with Irving and loving on his dogs.”

Irving loves his dogs.

Irving and Janelle are not the stereotypical heroes, but they are heroes nonetheless. Irving valiantly fought for the country and Janelle dedicated her limited free time to assist a veteran in need. Heroes and inspiration come in many forms, and these individuals offered a way for many community-minded people to reach out and help those in need. Thank you both, Irving and Janelle, for your your military and community service. 

If you are interested in becoming a Battle Buddy or a volunteer with Hero’s Bridge to assist all the heroes served by this organization, please email If time constraints are an issue but you would still like to help, consider becoming a Help A Hero partner, a monthly giving program which supports the veterans Hero’s Bridge serves.