Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care on special programs honor and support veterans – LIVING WELL Magazine

Special Programs Honor and Support Veterans

Courtesy Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care, Colorado Springs LIVING WELL Magazine

How do you give back to those who have given so much? In whatever small ways you can. By honoring their sacrifices. Saying “thank you.” Caring for them and their families in times of need.

Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care (PPHPC) participates in two programs specifically designed to honor and support veterans and their families during the last phase of life.

Colorado Hospice-Veteran Partnership

PPHPC’s formal commitment to serve the unique needs of veterans began in 2006 when the organization became a member of the Colorado Hospice-Veteran Partnership (HVP). The Hospice-Veteran Partnership was initiated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) to encourage collaborative partnerships between community hospices and organizations serving veterans. The Colorado HVP operates under the auspices of the Colorado Center for Hospice and Palliative Care.

To enhance the HVP, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs created a unique training video – “Wounded Warriors – Their Last Battle” – to educate HVP member organizations about the unique needs of veterans. Equipped with this tool and information from the Colorado Hospice-Veteran Partnership, PPHPC began offering specialized support for area veterans and their families.

John Bauer, PPHPC Chaplain and retired U.S. Army Chaplain explains, “With every new patient, we ask questions to identify veterans in our care; we want to know when and how they served, and whether they have access to VA medical benefits. In some cases, veterans may have specific needs related to combat experience or other traumatic events which can be addressed by our staff.” These facts allow the patient’s Interdisciplinary Care Team to create a customized care plan based on the veteran’s individual experiences, and assure availability of all benefits.

We Honor Veterans

Earlier this year, PPHPC became a national partner in the We Honor Veterans program.  Developed by National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, We Honor Veterans is designed to empower hospice professionals to meet the unique needs of dying veterans. The program formally incorporates resources that focus on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgement of the veteran’s sacrifices.

As a We Honor Veterans partner, PPHPC has already met many requirements established by NHPCO, including veteran-specific education for staff. “We continually evaluate our programs to ensure we meet or exceed the highest standards established by NHPCO,” says President & CEO Martha Barton.

Symbols of Appreciation

Five years ago Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care staff created two additional ways to acknowledge and thank the distinguished veterans receiving our care. An heirloom-quality coin, (similar to those used by the armed forces to recognize service and build morale within units) in the shape of a dog tag, and a personalized certificate of appreciation are formally presented to each veteran patient. “The coin and certificate are expressions of gratitude to veterans for their service to our country,” Chaplain Bauer explains. “This may seem like a small thing to do for our veterans who have given so much. But as we say ‘thank you,’ we have heard some incredible stories about veterans finally breaking the silence and telling loved ones of their service.” More than 1,150 patients, including 65 female veterans, have received these unique coins and certificates.

“Our veterans have sacrificed for our nation and they deserve our respect and deep appreciation,” says Barton. “We are proud to participate in the Colorado Hospice-Veteran Partnership and the We Honor Veterans program. We are committed to providing the extraordinary care, honor and recognition our veterans deserve – at a time when it is needed most.”

For more information about Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care and these special programs for veterans, please visit the PPHPC website at www.pikespeakhospice.org or call 719-633-3400.