At the center of hospice care is the belief that everyone has the right to die pain-free and with dignity. The emotional and spiritual components of hospice care can be especially meaningful to veterans who often face issues near the end of life relating to their military experiences. Support is even more crucial for veterans who do not have a strong support network of family and friends.
We Honor Veterans, a project of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has invited hospices, state hospice organizations and VA partners to join a pioneering program focused on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment. By recognizing their unique needs, community providers like Niagara Hospice, in partnership with VA staff, help guide America's veterans and their families through their life stories toward a more peaceful ending.
Consider these facts:
- More than 1,800 veterans die every day. This represents a quarter of all deaths in America.
- Approximately 85% of veterans do not receive care through the VA health care system.
- Most veterans still die in the community; only 4% of veteran deaths occur in VA facilities.
These statistics highlight the importance of partnerships among VA and community health providers as well as organizations that serve veterans. Hospice care is part of the basic eligibility package for veterans enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). If hospice care is appropriate for enrolled veterans and has been approved by a VA physician, VA medical centers will either provide hospice care directly in their facilities or purchase it from community hospices. All Medicare-eligible veterans, whether or not they are enrolled in VHA, have access to hospice care through Medicare. Veterans not eligible for Medicare may have hospice benefits through Medicaid or other private insurance. However, like 90% of all Americans, most veterans simply don't know that these options exist.
Niagara Hospice has established a partnership with the Veteran's Administration in Buffalo to ensure quality end-of-life care is available to all Niagara County veterans. Goals of the partnership include educating veterans and the community about the hospice benefit that every veteran is entitled to; customizing hospice care plans specific to the special needs of veterans; and recruiting community veterans to serve as hospice volunteers who will be paired with Niagara Hospice patients who are also veterans.
At Niagara Hospice, We Honor Veterans means:
- Improving access to care for all Veterans, including the homeless
- Improving quality of care by learning more about the special needs of Veterans
- Staff learn about military history and knowing what to do with the information
- Training staff and volunteers about the special needs of Veterans and their families
- Recognizing and thanking our veterans for their service with a specialized plaque and patriotic comfort quilt
- Recruiting Veterans to serve as Hospice Volunteers
Navy Veteran and Niagara Hospice Volunteer
Gene Brayley visits with Army Veteran and Hospice
patient Ralph Bishop. Ralph served guarding
both Presidents Truman and Eisenhower.