JACKSON, Mich., Oct. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Great Lakes Caring Hospice, one of the largest and most trusted health care providers in the Midwest, is looking for volunteers to help with American Veteran patients in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
"It may surprise many people to learn that 25 percent of those who die every year in the U.S. are veterans. To help provide care and support that reflect the important contributions made by these men and women, Great Lakes Caring Hospice has become a national partner of We Honor Veterans, a pioneering campaign developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and The United States Department of Veterans Affairs," said Great Lakes Caring CEO William Deary.
"As a We Honor Veterans Partner, Great Lakes Caring Hospice will be implementing ongoing Veteran-centered education for our staff and volunteers to help improve the quality of life for the veterans they proudly serve. Our nation is seeing many of the veterans who served in World War II and the Korean War pass away -- and the number of deaths of Vietnam Veterans is beginning to rise," added Deary whose father and mother were both United States Navy Veterans.
Volunteers are essential in providing support for a veteran at the end of life. Veterans or non-veterans interested in volunteering may go to GreatLakesCaring.com to apply. Volunteers will receive special training to understand the unique needs of veterans.
Why Become a Hospice Volunteer for Veterans?
For Central Indiana Great Lakes Caring Volunteer Dwight Patrick, there are many reasons why he became a hospice veteran volunteer. "Although I am not a veteran myself, I am honored to be in their presence. I married at the age of 18 in 1960, and I immediately had the new responsibility of providing for my family. The military was not interested in me, given my marital status. I had relatives, friends and acquaintances who proudly served in Vietnam, Korea, and World War II. Some did not return. Perhaps my interest in serving our veterans may, in a small way, make up for my lack of military service.
"I am always in awe when visiting with our combat-experienced veterans, just to learn about some of their experiences. I'm a good listener, and I am sensitive to their emotions. I don't claim to be a military historian; however, I do view many documentaries, and I am familiar with certain events and battle locations, such as the D-Day Invasion and its beaches, the Bulge, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and other Pacific hot spots, South Korea and Vietnam. Also, I have enjoyed our Life Stories project, encouraging our veterans to share their military and other memories with their families. This experience has enriched my knowledge as well," said Patrick.
What Volunteers Do for Veterans
Russell Atkinson, Great Lakes Caring Hospice patient, is a man of few words, due to Parkinson's disease. He stated, "I enjoy Dwight's visits. It means a lot to me. I haven't been recognized for my military service since my discharge and really haven't talked about my time in the Korean War. I look forward to seeing Dwight and talking with him."
Atkinson grew up in the Southern Indiana farm community of Shoals where his family values, work ethics, and his decision to serve his country all began. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1950 and was discharged in 1954 following his assignment in Korea during hostile times. Later, in 1961 he married his lovely wife Becky and they raised four children.
In 1965, Russell began a 30 year career in public service, retiring in 1995. Becky has been and is his very capable caregiver and has expressed her gratitude for the many services that Great Lakes Caring Hospice provides.
Types of Veteran Volunteers Services
Trained hospice volunteers may offer:
- Companionship by listening, reading or just holding a hand
- Work on a craft or share your talents – music, scrapbooking, games, sports, and more
- Stay with a veteran while family members take a break or keep an appointment
- Help with vigil or bereavement support
- Help replace lost or stolen military medals by contacting the appropriate agency
- Record a veteran's life story with the Great Lakes Caring Legacy of an American Veteran Life Stories Program
- Most of all, becoming a new friend to a veteran who is terminally ill and facing end-of-life.
Hospices participating in Medicare must comply with numerous regulations. One condition of participation is that five percent of all patient care hours at a Medicare-certified hospice be provided by trained volunteers. In addition to the "five-percent rule," the hospice must utilize volunteers for care and services in accordance with standards set by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. These standards are designed to ensure a continuing level of effort to use hospice volunteers.
What May Volunteers Feel that they give back by Volunteering with Veterans?
"I like to think that I offer them a new friendship, someone that they are comfortable with in sharing stories and experiences. I think I give them the opportunity to bond somewhat with someone that understands the geography or locations of certain events and has at least some understanding of the military logistics and system in general. I believe that we, as volunteers, offer these veterans the opportunity to discuss things that they may be uncomfortable talking about to their families or other loved ones," added Patrick.
About Veterans Day
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926.
About Great Lakes Caring
Great Lakes Caring is one of the Midwest's premier providers of a continuum of care, consisting of home health, palliative care, and hospice care, as well as home medical equipment. Our care services are delivered with an unparalleled level of superior quality by our exceptionally dedicated team of health care professionals to more than 6,000 patients across Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. Our intimate approach to caring for our patients, along with our extraordinary pursuit of next generation health care technologies and innovative care services, drives more than 2,000 loyal physicians to entrust their patients' care to Great Lakes Caring. For more information go to www.GreatlakesCaring.com or call 800-311-5365.
Barbara Palazzolo, APR
Director of Marketing
SOURCE Great Lakes Caring Hospice