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We Start by Asking “Are you a Veteran?”

By: Center for Hospice Care Last Updated: July 2, 2019

If the answer to that simple question is ‘yes’, Center for Hospice Care (CHC) staff know what comes next – saying ‘thank you for your service.’ But it does not end there. Through a powerful program called We Honor Veterans (WHV), Veterans with life-limiting illnesses are receiving compassionate care from CHC that is veteran-specific. This nationally recognized campaign – developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization – has brought our country together to care for and honor those who have served. As CHC President/CEO Mark Murray notes, “More than one fourth of the people dying in the United States are veterans. Nationally, some 1,800 veterans die each day, and our goal is to address their end-of-life needs, to serve them as they have served us.” Since Veterans have done everything asked of them to serve our country, CHC believes it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home. We Honor Veterans is designed to engage and support community hospice and other healthcare providers to better understand and address Veterans’ needs at the end of life. The goals of WHV are to:

• Promote Veteran-focused educational activities,

• Increase organizational capacity to serve Veterans,

• Support development of strategic partnerships, and

• Increase access to hospice and palliative care for Veterans.

WHV provides education, resources and technical assistance to educate hospice and other healthcare professionals who care for Veterans nearing the end of life. During this process, service or combat-related traumatic memories may emerge causing additional stress for the Veteran and his or her family. By recognizing the unique needs of America’s Veterans and their families, providers learn how to support and guide them through these life stories toward a more peaceful ending. A major component of the program is the engagement of WHV partners who are primarily community hospice providers that demonstrate a comprehensive commitment to improving care for Veterans at the end of life and integrating best practices into their organization. Through our demonstrated commitment to Veterans, CHC is proud to have attained a four-star rating - the highest level possible.

One soldier’s story

One particular story captured the hearts of our donors and supporters, and truly embodied the “We Honor Veterans” program. WWII veteran Wilbur Lewis entered our care in the spring of 2016. His family described him as a vibrant, “charismatic character” – a man who loved life. Making the decision to choose CHC enabled his daughter and son-in-law, Karen and Rich, to bring him into their home and helped ensure his final months of life were the highest quality they could be. CHC was able to send one veteran on an honor flight to Washington, D.C. – to provide an opportunity to visit the memorials honoring their service and sacrifices. Wilbur was the right choice for the Honor Flight, which left in the early hours of the morning and returned late that same night. Little did he know that hundreds of supporters were awaiting him when the return flight landed. “We celebrated overseas when the war ended, but when we came home it was nothing like this – it would have been so nice to have received this kind of welcome when we came home.”