You might be surprised to learn that one out of every four people who die in the United States every year is a veteran. These are folks who spent years, even decades, serving our country, both at home and during wartime, safeguarding our freedom. As the end of life approaches, they often face unique challenges as a result of that service. With those considerations in mind – and the knowledge that about 5,000 veterans die in Central Maryland every year – Gilchrist Hospice Care has entered into a new partnership to ensure that we are able to meet each and every need of the veterans who seek us out for the finest in end of life care.
Through the We Honor Veterans Program, a partnership with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and our local Veterans Administration, Gilchrist is working to educate staff and volunteers about the veteran experience, making sure our veterans receive the benefits they deserve and making certain that acknowledgement and respect for their service is part of our everyday work. In the short time we’ve been part of this program, we’ve learned that each veteran’s experience is unique and that each veteran remembers and reflects on that experience in his or her own way. We’ve also learned that many of our veterans may not avail themselves of all the resources to which they are entitled; as a result, we work closely with the VA at Loch Raven to ensure that our veterans receive the benefits they need so that their journeys at the end of life can be as comfortable and dignified as possible.
As veteran patients are identified, Gilchrist inquires with sensitivity about their service and our hospice team members listen with compassion. Our interdisciplinary teams plan our veterans’ care with their unique needs in mind, identify benefits and honor their service by encouraging them to review as much of their life story as they are comfortable sharing and, ultimately, recognizing their service with a moving “pinning ceremony.” Some of these ceremonies are large family celebrations and others are quiet events, but all have one thing in common: the presentation of a pin as a token of our appreciation for the sacrifices they made in service to our country.
At Gilchrist Hospice Care, we are proud to serve those who have served us.
Learn more about Gilchrist’s We Honor Veterans partnership.