We Honor Our Veterans
Hospice of the Foothills was recently awarded the third of four stars in the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association’s ‘We Honor Vets’ program. The program is a collaboration of NHPCO, The Department of Veterans Affairs, & local hospices to recognize the unique needs of America’s Veterans and their families. The first step in providing quality end-of-life care to our nations Veterans is to learn more about their needs and become familiar with military culture. All wars are different and result in unique experiences, and often complications, to the Veterans who served in them. Too many of our Veterans live with homelessness, substance abuse, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and physical injuries sustained during their service.
With about 26 million Veterans alive today, it’s important to consider the lasting affects military service may have on a person’s life. American Veterans have done everything asked of them, and at times, their service has carried an unexpected price. For Veterans who served during war times, the affects can be vastly different depending on what war or conflict they experienced. Similarly, there are untold stresses during peace times with tense standoffs, danger-filled humanitarian missions, and much more. Not surprisingly, these issues often surface in profound ways during a Veterans end-of-life journey. Take the example of a WWII Veteran who fought on the beaches of Normandy. For many years, he was able to suppress the memories and images of that storied day. But as his life journey was drawing to an end, his war time memories started to surface in the form of night terrors. Unwilling to burden his family or friends with the reality of his war experience, he simply ‘soldiered’ on. This story has many faces, many versions, and many outcomes. As a We Honor Veterans partner, Hospice of the Foothills has the understanding and a network of resources to help Veterans dealing with unique challenges. Pairing a patient with a volunteer from our Vet-to-Vet visitation program provides an opportunity to share stories and memories with someone with similar experiences. By building and maintaining relationships with Veterans assistance organizations, we are able to connect family members to important, supportive services.
Hospice of the Foothills is committed to continually building the professional and organizational capacity for providing quality care to Veterans and their families. This includes developing and strengthening partnerships with the VA and other Veteran support organizations, increasing access to palliative and hospice care for Veterans in our community, and networking with other hospices around the country to share best practices. Achieving the fourth and final star in the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program is well within our reach by continuing to provide staff and volunteer educational opportunities, community education, and maintaining organizational policies to support Veterans unique needs at the end-of-life.