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Published on April 14, 2020

VNA hospice recognizes special needs of veterans

VNA Veterans

The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Cape Cod Hospice has achieved Level 1 in the We Honor Veteran's program.

We Honor Veterans is a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The program was created to address the growing need for veteran-centered care, especially as the need for access to hospice and palliative care by the aging veterans’ population was growing. The end goal being to care for and honor those who have served when they reach end of life.

We Honor Veterans

“In order for the VNA of Cape Cod Hospice to participate in the We Honor Veterans program, we are building a veteran-centric culture and mindset, said Lisa Barriere, volunteer program specialist for the VNA. “This includes education, research, pinning ceremonies, developing and/or strengthening partnerships with the VA and other veterans’ organizations.”

Barriere emphasized the importance of recognizing and respecting the unique needs of veterans in our hospice care.

“Many veterans have experienced the hardships of war, and each war presents unique obstacles. We acknowledge these brave men and women by asking specific questions upon admission, conducting pinning ceremonies and presenting certificates to honor their service. It's a privilege to honor these veteran's," she said.

According to the VA, more than 1,800 veterans are dying every day, but not much is known about end-of-life issues for this special population. The vast majority of veterans do not receive their healthcare from the VA, but rather local healthcare providers, making it even more important that there is communication and understanding of their unique needs.

Former VA Secretary Anthony Principi said that “while VA does not directly provide comprehensive home hospice services, it is critical for us to build solid relationships with the hospice community in order to provide these services to veterans under our care.” The VA does not have the capacity to care for all terminally ill veterans by itself - it must rely on community hospices to help shoulder the burden - and benefits - of providing quality end-of-life care for our nation’s veterans. whether or not the veteran is enrolled in VA healthcare.

As a We Honor Veterans partner, there are five levels an organization can achieve. Each level guides an organization through specific activities and practical resources to progressively develop, implement and track a strategic work plan.

“Currently, the VNA Hospice team is educating staff and volunteers as well as updating our policies and procedures to recognize the unique needs of veterans,” she said. “This way, we are able to extend our commitment to the community and a larger segment of the population. We also have the privilege of honoring veterans through caring for them in their last months of life.”

To find out more about VNA of Cape Cod and the VNA Hospice program, visit https://www.capecodhealth.org/about/vna/.