Celebrating National Hospice and Palliative Care month and Caring for our Veterans

By: 
Hospice of Lenawee’s Deb Kemper MSN, RN, Staff Education Coordinator & Gail Blum, M.Div. Spiritual Care

As we enter the month of November, we are reminded that holiday celebrations are soon upon us. November is also National Hospice and Palliative Care month. This is an opportunity to remind our communities about the choices they have for their healthcare.  We at Hospice of Lenawee seek any opportunity to educate our community about what hospice care is and how we can help. In the upcoming weeks of November, watch for other columns that will explore the significance of this month and help to dispel the myths that so often get in the way of seeking end-of-life care.

 At Hospice of Lenawee, we are also aware that November holds a special significance for an important subset of our patients: our Veterans. As we approach Veterans’ Day, we are busy preparing for how we can make this month about honoring our patients and their families who have served in the military, as well as other Veterans in the community.

Hospice of Lenawee partners with the Veterans Administration in the national program known as We Honor Veterans. We see November as a wonderful opportunity to partner with the many organizations in Lenawee County who are committed to serving our Veterans and honoring their service and sacrifice. We look forward to meeting with the many Veterans within our community and thanking them for their service. We are working to build strong connections in our community to support all Veterans.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) started the We Honor Veterans program to support and educate hospices in the care of Veterans. We educate our staff about the unique challenges that Veterans may face as they near the end of their journey, issues that may be specific to the era and length of their service. We gather military history and ensure that our veterans have access to their veteran benefits. We conduct pinning ceremonies for those who desire them, honoring and thanking them in a ceremony surrounded by their loved ones.

We recruit Veteran volunteers who visit our patients who have served in the military. Sometimes only another Veteran can understand and accept the stories that are burning to be told.  Our volunteers receive 24 hours of training to make sure that they have the tools they need to help our Veterans. We invite experts with the Veteran service organizations to come to Hospice of Lenawee to educate our staff on the unique needs of Veterans. We currently serve veterans from World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and the Desert Storm.

We learn many lessons from our Veterans. They are our humble heroes. When we talk to them about pinning ceremonies, we often are at first met with resistance as they don’t feel they deserve the honor or attention. Their sense of duty is strong, and they would rather serve than be served. But when we do have the privilege of providing a pinning ceremony for one of our Veterans, we know we are sharing a space of significance with them. It is our privilege to have the opportunity to thank them for their service. Often, we are told that they are hearing that thanks for the first time since their return. We also remember the families of those who served and their sacrifice.
Our Veterans have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with our community. We are indebted to them for their willingness to serve, often at great and lasting personal cost. At Hospice of Lenawee, it is our honor to hear their stories and to support them in their journey.

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Tecumseh Herald

 

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