Addressing Veterans’ Unique Needs

A large number of veterans face challenges of physical illness or psychological issues stemming from their military service. Healthcare providers may gain a broader perspective and knowledge base of their patients by investigating health issues and unique needs commonly experienced by an era of military service. During military service, individuals may encounter threats to their well-being from biological, environmental, chemical, or combat-related sources. While each of the health risks impact veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) typically has the most significant influence on veterans and their families during hospice care. Learn more about the Psychosocial and Physiological Effects of War here.

We Honor Veterans partners address the unique health care needs of Veterans, both physical and emotional, including the psychological toll of war and how it impacts their end-of-life journey. In some cases, Veteran patients are paired with volunteers who have also served their country and share a unique and honorable bond. Many partners also recognize the military service of Veterans with special pinning ceremonies and awards. NHPCO President & CEO Edo Banach shared, “our WHV partner programs have demonstrated a commitment to providing quality Veteran-centric care to the Veteran patients they serve, and we are excited to expand the program.” Learn more about how we honor Veterans here.

What is the ‘We Honor Veterans Program’?

In 2010, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in a joint effort with the Department of Veteran Affairs initiated a campaign entitled We Honor Veterans. The goal of the We Honor Veterans program was to ensure hospice providers caring for veterans understand the unique needs and challenges they and their families face at end-of-life.

How it works

The program begins at a Recruit level and moves through levels 1 to 4. Each level with specific requirements that must be achieved to gain competency and progress to the next level. Aseracare agencies across the country enrolled in the We Honor Veterans Program with a commitment to create awareness, educate, and improve veteran centered care. By 2014, all 44 Aseracare agencies had achieved level 4 status with a nationally recognized commitment to support and care for veterans at end-of-life. The program highlights the struggles and challenges that many of our nation’s veterans may be facing at the end of life due to traumatic experiences suffered during their time in service. Learn more about Veterans and grief here.

“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. And we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.” – Dame Cicely Saunders

What is Level 5?

At NHPCO’s Leadership Conference in April of 2017, Stephenie Nebelski, Aseracare Area Director of Hospice Operations, met with NHPCO’s Katherine Kemp to discuss ideas for next steps in advancing the We Honor Veterans Program. This conversation reinforced what Katherine had heard from many of the highest-level 4 hospice partners, “What’s next?” and “How can we do more?”, sparking the development of a pilot program for a level 5.

Aseracare Hospice – Altoona, PA was chosen by NHPCO to represent Aseracare in the year and a half pilot project to craft activities for level 5. In December 2018, the pilot was completed, and Aseracare was one of 9 hospice organizations nationally who achieved level 5. Aseracare Altoona Director, Laurie Dean, serves as a Regional Mentor for NHPCO’s Level 5 Program and nationally supports all Aseracare agencies enrolled in the level 5 program.

Like other partner-level requirements, there is an outline of required partner activities to be completed. Unlike the other levels, Level 5 requires hospice providers to complete their activities on a yearly basis. The We Honor Veterans team put together this guide which includes assessments, interventions, and goals of care: Care Planning Guide for Veterans

Why is it important?

This level stresses the importance of recognizing veterans for their service. It also tasks hospice care teams with bringing Veterans together, forming a community and support system. Our care teams must develop activities designed to increase access and improve the quality of care for veterans in their local communities. 

The expanded program includes Vet to Vet Café’s, a veteran centered plan of care, focused education for support of our Vietnam Veterans, and cultural competency for staff, including volunteers. This highest level of commitment requires annual recertification with ongoing education and support to guide American Veterans and their families toward a more peaceful ending.

 

 

To learn more, visit the We Honor Veterans website.

More information on How we Serve and Care for Veterans.

More information on VA Benefit Resources.