Care Dimensions President Pat Ahern thanks long-time hospice veteran-to-veteran volunteer Tom Pendergast at a volunteer appreciation dinner.
As our nation marks Veterans Day and the celebration of Hospice and Palliative Care Month, Care Dimensions wants to share its commitment to increase veterans’ access to compassionate, high-quality hospice and palliative care for those who are facing serious and life-limiting illness. Honoring our nation’s veterans includes supporting them throughout their entire lives, especially at the end.
We Honor Veterans
As a Level 4 Partner in the “We Honor Veterans” program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, we recognize veterans for their service and have tailored our hospice services to meet the unique needs of veterans
who have life-limiting illness.
We find that veterans often keep their feelings and pain to themselves. They are trained in a culture of stoicism and may have combat experience, which can cause traumatic memories or anxiety about something they did or witnessed – memories that may be reawakened or exacerbated when facing the end of life.
Take Charlie, for example – a Korean War veteran who came onto Care Dimensions’ hospice services due to advanced respiratory disease. He didn’t like to talk about his military service much, but acknowledged to his hospice team that he had been in the Army and lost several buddies during the war. A Care Dimensions hospice chaplain began visiting Charlie, who slowly opened up about his wartime experiences, the friendships he had made and the ones he’d lost.
On one of his last visits to see Charlie, the chaplain presented him with a We Honor Veterans Freedom Stone, inscribed with, “Freedom – In gratitude for your service to our country.” Charlie sat quietly for a few moments staring at the smooth granite stone that the chaplain had placed in his hand. “No one has ever thanked me for my service,” he remarked softly. The chaplain listened and supported Charlie who became emotional.
Specialized hospice care for veterans
Care Dimensions provides individualized care plans that address medical and psychological issues common in veterans. Our veteran’s hospice program also provides:
- Hospice care provided by a team of physicians, nurses, hospice aides, social workers, chaplains and trained volunteers
- 24-hour support system
- Medications, supplies and equipment
- Complementary therapies, including massage, Reiki, pet therapy, art and music therapy
- Assistance in identifying and securing military benefits, pensions and community resources
- Assistance with military funeral and memorial planning
- Grief support for the veteran’s family
We provide hospice care wherever the veteran lives in the community – private home, skilled nursing facility, VA nursing home or medical center, state veterans’ home, or even a homeless shelter. Veterans are entitled to receive hospice care through their VA benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance.
Since veterans share the bond of military service, Care Dimensions also offers a veteran-to-veteran volunteer program
. Veterans who are specially trained volunteers provide a friendly set of ears for veterans receiving hospice care. They give of themselves, not just out of their sense of duty, but out of respect and admiration.
“It’s a wonderful way to honor the service that these veterans gave for our country, acknowledge what they did, and to share our experiences,” said Jeff Brand, an Air Force veteran from Marblehead, MA, and Care Dimensions volunteer who sees only veteran hospice patients.
“It’s a great feeling to know that they (veterans) appreciate me giving my time,” said Care Dimensions veteran-to-veteran volunteer Charlie Ciaramitaro of Hamilton, MA. “And family members also are grateful because they can go out for a couple of hours while I’m there and not worry about their loved one.”
According to NHPCO, about 1,800 U.S. veterans die every day, and one out of every four dying Americans is a veteran. These men and women have made profound sacrifices in defense of freedom. They deserve our heartfelt thanks, appreciation, and the best possible end-of-life care that allows them to die peacefully and with dignity.
To learn more about Care Dimensions’ services or to speak with a hospice expert, please call us at 888-283-1722. To inquire about becoming a Veteran-to-Veteran Volunteer, contact Sheryl Meehan at 978-750-9321.