By Nichole Williams, MSW
We at Front Range Hospice would like to wish all of those who have served our Country a wonderful Memorial Day!
As part of the We Honor Veterans Level IV program, Front Range Hospice matches veteran volunteers to veteran patients. This program developed out of the need for special care of veteran patients, due to their unique circumstances at the end of life. In matching veteran volunteers with veteran patients, it is important to assess veteran volunteers’ military history and experience, to ensure there are no barriers in them serving patients and families.
As the Volunteer Coordinator for Front Range Hospice, I gather information from the veteran volunteers regarding what branch they served in, what their rank was, and if they were a combat veteran or non-combat veteran. In addition, I inquire about their loss history, assess their level of comfort in being with the dying, and assess their comfort level in being with patients as they share their emotions. I also discuss any service related trauma that they may have, and how they manage any ongoing mental health needs that they may have.
Veteran volunteers bring their military background and experience to their work in hospice, which allows them to offer life review and healing to patients who are veterans. Being a veteran volunteer takes special skill and awareness. Patients who are veterans feel a sense of comradery and connection when being visited by a veteran volunteer as they share common experiences, language, badges of honor, and stories of serving in the military. The services that veteran volunteers provide give patients and their families a sense of connection, a place to have their stories be “heard”, and for them to be themselves.
I want to say thank you for the tremendous service that our veteran volunteers, Jerry Kuntz, and Brian Strong, provide to our veteran patients, and the many other patients that they serve. Both Jerry and Brian have brought their own experience and life stories, as well as an understanding of what patients who are veterans’ needs are. They have both honored many patients who are veterans with the We Honor Veteran certificates, assisted in the pinning ceremony, and paid respect to patients by wearing their branch uniform when they visit. Thank you Jerry and Brian!!!
For more information on how to get involved with the Front Range Hospice Veteran Volunteer Program or Hospice Services please contact us at 303-957-3101 or 970-776-8080.