Developed by National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Department of Veterans Affairs, the We Honor Veterans program was created to offer Veteran hospice patients respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgment. Hospice & Community Care is a Level 4 We Honor Veterans provider, and our Veteran programming provides support and guidance to Veteran patients, their loved ones, and the community. In addition to hospice services, we offer Veteran recognition and appreciation activities, and the comfort and support of trained Veteran-to-Veteran volunteers to Veterans.
Frank Grobusky is the Veteran Services Coordinator at Hospice & Community Care, and he has a leading role in Veteran outreach in our communities and honoring our Veteran patients. “Veterans programming in hospice really came to be largely in response to a national move to recognize and honor Veterans. After 9/11, people began appreciating military so much more and recognized their defense of our nation against terrorism. Hospice & Community Care decided to join this movement and formed a committee to discuss how to develop more outreach and honor our Veteran patients,” said Frank.
“Hospice & Community Care joined the We Honor Veterans initiative, and we have continued to build our Veteran programming over the years. My position as Veteran Services Coordinator was created to carry on more activities, including reaching out to not only our patients and families but our community Veterans as well to express our appreciation for their service. Among our program services is our pinning ceremony where we celebrate a patient’s service by issuing a set of flags, one American flag and the other representing their branch of service. We provide a certificate that is printed with the branch of service indicated on the certificate, and the wording expresses how we appreciate what they have sacrificed in their service to our nation.”
“We also have a prayer shawl ministry, and they provide lap blankets and prayer shawls for our patients, and we asked them to do something exclusively for our Veterans. And so the ladies took this task on, and we have been receiving red white and blue shawls exclusively for our Veterans. The families and patients are deeply appreciative of these prayer shawls, and the shawls are cherished even after the patient’s passing. Often the patients are buried in these shawls since they are prayed over and the families want the shawls to remain with their loved ones,” Frank shared. “The prayer shawls have proven to be one of the highlights of the ceremony for me. Our gratitude and praise to the prayer ministry for their willingness to take this one and give this true creative gift to our Veteran patients. Enough can’t be said.”
“During the ceremony, I invite a family member or members to place the prayer shawl on their loved one. That is accompanied by a prayer written by the Prayer Ministry to pass on that describes the process of putting the shawl together with the intentions of prayer being bestowed upon the patient. And I invite a family member to read that prayer as a part of the pinning ceremony. It is the exception if someone is not shedding tears by that part because this moment is memorable, moving, and emotional for the patient and those present for the laying of the shawl.”
Hospice & Community Care is in the process of applying to become a Level 5 We Honor Veterans provider, and Frank shared a little about that process. “I was looking at all the things we have done as an agency to honor our Veterans, and it is a long, long list. Several more initiatives need to be undertaken, and we have accomplished most of the requirements. Some initiatives will take place later this year, such as Veterans Day in November. One exciting thing that is going to happen this year is The Wall that Heals, the Vietnam Veteran traveling wall will be here in October. We as an agency, will be involved in that as volunteers.”
To learn more about Hospice & Community Care’s We Honor Veterans program visit HERE.
To learn more about the Wall that Heals visit HERE.