Honoring veterans through the end of life

Posted: Monday, November 05, 2007

Americans across the country celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, a special day of awareness to help all Americans understand the values, commitment, and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. It is a time when we pay tribute to those who have served our country.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Hospice of the Central Peninsula stress that honoring our nation's veterans includes supporting them throughout their entire lives, even at the end.

Many Americans might not realize that more than 50,000 veterans die each month; that's roughly 28 percent of all deaths in the United States.

"Brave men and women in all branches of the service have made sacrifices and dedicated their lives to peace and the defense of freedom," said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. "The liberty that we, as U.S. citizens, enjoy comes at a price paid by these valiant men and women."

All Americans should take the opportunity to reflect on the contributions made by veterans.

They are our family members, neighbors, friends, and co-workers and we should extend our gratitude to them all.

Most hospices provide care for veterans every day. Yet in many cases, the only time an agency knows they are caring for a veteran is if the person is enrolled in the VA health care system, in which only a quarter of all veterans are enrolled.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers are experienced in caring for the complex needs of these men and women.

Hospice and palliative care providers are experts in providing compassionate care to people living with life-limiting illness. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization encourages hospices and VAs to work together to best serve veterans who are dying.

Our nation's veterans have given their last full measure in service to their country, it is only fitting that we provide the highest quality of care for them when they are nearing the end of their lives.

If you know a veteran who is in need of the special care hospice provides, serve them by reaching out and helping them learn more about care at the end of life.

Information is available from NHPCO's Caring Connections at www.caringinfo.org or by calling the HelpLine at (800) 658-8898.

This article was provided by Marquitta M. Andrus, executive director Hospice of the Central Peninsula. For more information on Hospice, call 262-0453.

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