The Staggering Statistics
By Matthew Larime, BSW
The first of a series of blogs about Veterans and End of Life Care
There are over 26 million veterans living today.
20% of all deaths this year in the Unites States will be veterans.
Of the veterans who die this year, 96% of them will die in their community.
What does this all mean?
The United States veterans served in the armed forces to provide you and me the safety and freedoms we have today. Veterans of the armed forces continue to serve in the United States and around the world, preserving our freedoms and the freedom of others. Subject to various forms of warfare, including chemical, biological, and physical, men and women of the armed forces continue to put themselves in harms’ way, and continue to defend our way of life.
As the veteran population ages, and more veterans are returning home, the need for healthcare grows exponentially. For years our country has depended on healthcare for veterans through Veteran Affairs (VA) Medical Centers (VAMC). The VA is the largest healthcare organization in the country, but with 26 million potential patients, they need our help. The VA is able to provide excellent care to a veteran receiving services in a VAMC, however the VA lacks the ability to provide care to veterans living in the community and/or unable to go to the VAMC.
It should be known that all healthcare organizations need to do their part to support our veterans in their healthcare needs. However, hospices need to pay special attention, as it is suggested that 24 million of the current 26 million veterans will die in their respective communities or resident placements, most importantly, outside of the care of a VAMC. As stated above, many veterans have been subject to various forms of warfare in addition to being subject to extreme climates. The combination of both of these factors resulted in various types of physical, neuro, and psychological illnesses.
Because veterans have been subject to foreign toxins, traumatic events and extreme conditions it is important that staff providing care for veterans are provided additional education about specific illnesses possibly affecting the veteran population. Staff also need further education about the psychological conditions that may be affecting veterans and families of veterans, including; PTSD, Stoicism, Military cultural norms, and integrated trauma.
Front Range Hospice continues to maintain an ethical and progressive approach in end of life care. The veteran population continues to grow and the need for hospice agencies to partner with the VA is becoming more and more prudent. To ensure veterans are provided with legendary end of life care, Front Range Hospice partnered with the We Honor Veterans initiative through the National Hospice and Palliative Organization is taking up the rains and developing a program to work specifically with the veteran population. Over the coming weeks this blog will be updated to identify some of the issues veterans face and what Front Range Hospice is doing to care for our veteran population at end of life.