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Honoring Veterans at the End of their Lives takes a Team

Make a Difference this Independence Day

At Constellation, we are proud to support and care for hospice veterans. Our long history of honoring our veterans acknowledges the commitment and dedication they have shown our country. In every region we serve, our hospice teams have developed innovative programs that elevate care and recognize our veterans for the heroes they are. 

Caring for veterans is not only a challenge, but a privilege especially as hospice care is becoming ever-more demanding for our country heroes. Today, 1 in every 4 people who die in the United States are military veterans, according to the Journal of Palliative Medicine.  A decade from now there will be an estimated 500,000 vets dying each year, with an increased percentage of them being Vietnam veterans, according to The New York Times.  

Veterans, in general, are more chronically ill compared to the general population, have higher rates of disability and psychiatric issues, and can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. 

This wave of Vietnam veterans entering hospice care are experiencing particularly challenging circumstances, according to We Honor Vets — a joint initiative of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the V.A.

Vietnam vets are especially vulnerable to experiencing issues considering the often poor treatment they received upon their return home from service. In comparison, their World War II counterparts were hailed as heroes. 

Regardless of which era our veterans served, Constellation is up for the challenge of providing excellent care, and believes in paying it forward to serve all of our veterans at the end of life.

In addition to the daily efforts to provide a comfortable, compassionate place for our veterans to live life to their fullest, we are also faced with the challenges of COVID-19. Now more than ever, it takes a team to serve our veterans especially during these times where they might feel further isolated. 

This Independence Day we honor our veterans through the Constellation veterans program. Fueled by personal experiences from staff at each facility, our teams are constantly evolving and thinking of new, creative ways to acknowledge and thank our veterans amid the pandemic while respecting their preferences and privacy.

In general, we take a four-step approach to honoring veterans: 

  1. Identify our hospice veterans
  2. Thank them for their service at every visit
  3. Present them with tokens of appreciation
  4. Honor them at the end of their lives

*Offerings at each location may differ to best serve the community

It takes a true team approach to guarantee this program makes an impact—daily—especially for those patients in facilities where only the RNs or aides are allowed. Below are unique examples of how some facilities are making their veterans feel special. 

Ways Constellation Offices are Honoring Veterans

In Massachusetts/New Hampshire, the concept originated when an administrator accompanied his father, a veteran, to a medical appointment. Every staff member thanked his father for serving in the military. Seeing how it touched him so much, the administrator saw an opportunity to emulate that at Constellation. The team now presents veterans with American flag blankets in creative ways—including virtual celebrations with family—to ensure COVID-19 doesn’t prevent their vets from getting honored.

A Massachusetts veteran receiving his blanket

The Pennsylvania team honors veterans with a monthly support group in nursing homes by inviting all veterans to participate, not just those on hospice. The veterans work on projects together. For example, they held a BBQ and “near beer” event where the group wrote notes, and stuffed care packages to be sent to current veterans. In addition, they invited an active duty Navy chaplain to offer support and positive messages to hospice veterans. 

The Connecticut facility honors veterans through a pinning ceremony. Family and friends are invited to join and celebrate as veterans are presented with pins from their specific branch of service. They also do volunteer outreach for military veterans to enhance the experience for hospice patients. 

Connecticut team honors one of our veterans

This holiday, we are continually thankful to our staff for providing the best care for our veterans. Our efforts are seen on their faces with every act of acknowledgment. 

Please take time this Independence Day—and everyday—to thank the veterans in your life. 

It matters.

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