It may surprise most people to learn that 25% of men and women who die every year in the United States are veterans. Presently one of two men who die is a veteran. The nation is seeing many World War II and Korean War Veterans pass away and the number of deaths of Vietnam Veterans is beginning to rise. 26 million Veterans are living in the US today; 3,300 live in Kandiyohi County alone. Through the year 2016, approximately 680,000 Veterans will die in the U.S. each year, or 1,800 Veterans each day.
To help provide care and support that reflects the important contributions made by these men and women, in 2011 Rice Hospice became a national partner in the We Honor Veterans Program, a campaign developed between the National Hospice Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010. It is a wonderful joint effort between two strong and amazing organizations. The goal is simple: to focus more attention on the needs of Veterans at the end of life and to provide the best possible care specifically tailored for Veterans, meeting their goal of care in their preferred setting. This helps guide Veterans and their families toward a more peaceful ending. This is and has been a common goal of both Hospice organizations and the Veterans Administration for years, and now we are able to do this together. This program is indeed one of the most powerful and meaningful things that Rice Hospice now does for our Veteran Hospice clients.
As a We Honor Veterans partner, Rice Hospice has implemented ongoing Veteran-centered education for our staff and volunteers to help improve the care we provide to the Veterans we so proudly serve.
Part of the program involves publicly acknowledging the military services and sacrifices made by the Veteran and his or her family. We have included many of our Veteran Hospice volunteers in the recognition ceremonies, at which time the Veteran volunteer presents a certificate and pin to the Veteran patient, along with several gifts from Rice Hospice, and often with the family present. This recognition can take place at a hospital bedside, in a nursing home, at home, or in a public place of the Veteran’s choosing.
In the seven years that Rice Hospice has been a part of this program, we have conducted approximately 328 We Honor Veterans Recognition Ceremonies. To assist with these presentations, we have recruited more Veteran volunteers and are proud to say that we now have 18 Veteran Hospice volunteers, as well as 2 Veteran Hospice staff.