Recording from June 15, 2016 Partner Networking call.
We Honor Veterans- Partner Networking Call 06/15/2016
Terri Roberts and Colonel Roger Barros, Columbus Hospice
- Columbus Hospice is a Level Four partner with We Honor Veterans and has been for three years. Terry Roberts is the Volunteer and Bereavement Coordinator and Col. Barros is a Veteran volunteer who leads the pinning of Veteran patients. They have pinned over 100 Veteran patients.
- Col. Barros has been involved with the Vet-to-Vet program for over 4 years. He has had the honor of pinning Veterans who have fought in very famous battles, as well as pinning Command Sargent General Basil Plumly, who was the Sargent General in the movie We Were Soldiers Once in Young that stared actor Mel Gibson. Col. Barros spoke of how rewarding his volunteer work with the organization is to him and that he plans on continuing to volunteer with We Honor Veterans as long as it is in existence.
- Col. Barros has also begun to consider recommending some of the military hospice patients to be considered into the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame. This requires getting permission from the hospice patient’s family members to get their Department of Defense Form 214 to initiate the induction process to the Hall of Fame.
- Terri Roberts spoke to how meaningful pinning ceremonies are to everyone involved – the Veterans, the family members, and the staff as well. Some of the Veterans, especially the Vietnam Veterans, have not heard a thank you in decades.
- Terri Roberts contributes some of their success with the Vet-to-Vet program to their location, which is very close to Fort Benning. They also reach out to VFWs and attend any events that have a Veteran affiliation to pass out brochures and share their program’s information.
Q: Was there any specific training that Col. Barros needed to attend before he was able to begin pinning Veterans?
- A: Columbus Hospice has a very comprehensive volunteer training program, regardless of what an individual is volunteering to do. All volunteers are required to have background checks, tetanus shots, etc. Col. Barros was also required to be trained on privacy of military Veteran information, as well as annual recertification.
Q: When Veteran volunteers only want to participate in the pinning ceremony they often will resist when they have to participate in the 10 hour orientation that the standard volunteer must attend. Does anyone know of an abbreviated orientation that would be suitable for Veteran volunteers?
- A: Terri Roberts tells the Veteran volunteers about the lengthy orientation required of all volunteers upfront and then they are able to use that time as direct patient care which goes towards their 5% requirement. She agrees that it may have kept a few Veteran volunteers away but so far the process has worked for them.
Q: Some Veterans avoid volunteering because they are not ready to open up about their experiences, is there a way to help these veterans to become more comfortable so that they would be willing to volunteer?
A: Col. Barros is currently the director of his local school district’s JROTC. He suggests reaching out to local JROTC instructors because they are teaching cadets about selfless service, community service, and servant leadership as part of their curriculum so they themselves may be more inclined to want to do this kind of volunteer work. Also, Col. Barros used to bring the JROTC cadets to pinning ceremonies to teach them the importance of honoring those who have served. In addition, Col. Barros suggests the organization host a community Veteran luncheon as an ice breaker to thank Veterans of the community for their service before pitching to them what you would like their help with.
Terri Roberts also suggests having the new/unsure volunteers partner up with another Veteran volunteer to help take some of the apprehension away.
- A: Col. Barros is currently the director of his local school district’s JROTC. He suggests reaching out to local JROTC instructors because they are teaching cadets about selfless service, community service, and servant leadership as part of their curriculum so they themselves may be more inclined to want to do this kind of volunteer work. Also, Col. Barros used to bring the JROTC cadets to pinning ceremonies to teach them the importance of honoring those who have served. In addition, Col. Barros suggests the organization host a community Veteran luncheon as an ice breaker to thank Veterans of the community for their service before pitching to them what you would like their help with.
Q: What do your pinning ceremonies look like? What do you think works the best?
- A: Col. Barros receives an information sheet from Columbus Hospice that is filled out to the best of their abilities by the nurse and or the social worker of the patient. This form gives Col. Barros information regarding what branch the Veteran patient was in as well as the time period. He then puts together a 5-10 minute ceremony. They believe in the importance of catering to the family, so time and location is established by them. Col Barros presents a Hospice Certificate of Appreciation signed by the hospice director, as well as a Veteran lapel pin created by the hospice, followed by a short dignified narrative of what the Veteran patient did, when they did it, and acts of heroism. The most spectacular moment is when he says, “On behalf of our grateful nation we appreciate your service.” He then renders a military salute.
Kristen Nanjundaram: The Hospice Foundation’s Living with Grief program
- The Hospice Foundation of America is informing partners of a new educational material available, titled “Improving Care for Veterans Facing Illness and Death”. It is designed to help those working with end of life care to provide a better understanding of veterans and to introduce new interventions to assist dying veterans and their families.
- The course is two hours and 30 minutes and combined with an additional 3 chapters of our companion book it provides all learners with 3 CE credits. This is a self-study course, however you can add learners so that you can show it to a group.
- There is a discount for We Honor Veteran partners
Q: Is the 2 hour course through the internet or would a speaker be able to come in and speak to the staff on improving end of life care for Veterans? How do we receive the education?
- A: There are two options available. One is a DVD course the other is an online course. If you would like, you can receive a DVD and the companion book in the mail. A discussion is not required with the self-study courses, however, you can have your own discussion afterward which we have found is helpful through our Living with Grief program. It is also available as an online course for a smaller group of learners, which is a little cheaper.
Q: What is the website and the cost of the Living with Grief Program?
- A: the website is www.hospicefoundation.org. The cost is $44.95 for the DVD course or $35.95 for the online version. We do charge an additional $12 per person for CE credits if they need them.
Q: Are we able to set this up so that we can take the course along with our community partners’ staff?
- A: You may invite whoever you would like to join the course.
Kisa Heyer: CEO of The Dream Foundation’s Dreams for Veterans program
- The Dream Foundation is the only National dream granting organization for adults. For more than 2 decades we have served terminally ill patients and their families, providing end of life dreams. The Dream Foundation has served more than 25,000 dreams nationwide and has never turned down a qualified patient. They have served more than 6,000 of our nation’s veterans.
- In 2014 they began “Dreams for Veterans”, and served 115 Veteran dreams in the first year and over 200 in the following year.
- Qualifications of the Veteran Dream program is that applicants are above 18 years of age, have a life expectancy of one year or less which is verified with the applicant’s doctor or hospice representative, show proof of military service, and a lack the resources to fulfill the dream themselves.
- The Veteran to Veteran dream delivery allows Veteran volunteers the opportunity to participate in the dream. Each dream recipient receives a box, containing Dreams for Veterans t-shirts, hats, details about their dream, and anything else that they can add to the experience delivered by the Veteran volunteer.
- For more information their website is http://www.dreamfoundation.org/veterans and they can also be reached by phone and email. Also take a look at the following info from Dreams for Veterans and Dreams for Veterans by the numbers.
Q: How is the program financed?
- A: The program does not currently receive any state or federal funding. They rely 100% each year on raising the budget on individual foundation and corporate donations.
Q: Are smaller dreams provided for Veterans who cannot travel?
- A: Yes, 40% of the dreams per year are for quality of life or basic needs. The range is very wide for the dreams that the program receives.
Q: How long does it take to achieve the requested dream after the submission of the application?
- A: This is determined by the patient’s condition. If a patient is classified as emergency, meaning a life expectancy of 2 months or less, they will begin to work on the request the same day they receive it. In some instances we can move family members for a bedside reunion in 24 hours. On average the processing time is roughly 3 weeks.
Q: Do you work with palliative care programs as well?
- A: Yes, anyone with less than a 12 month life expectancy is eligible to apply.
Scott Shreve from the Department of Veterans Affairs: Updates from VA
- Scott Shreve shared a story of a deceased Veteran’s wife who came to the unit to visit. This past Memorial Day she put flowers on her deceased husband’s grave site at the National Cemetery in Central Pennsylvania and then went home. When she went home she turned on the TV and the news channel was covering a Memorial Day story and on the TV was the image of her husband’s headstone staring at her through the TV. What are the chances?
Q: How can we best handle the needs of Vietnam Veterans who wish to not be acknowledged for their service?
- A: Always ask for permission to recognize a Veteran for their service. Read their body language and be sincere when thanking them for their services. Let them know that you are there for them going forward and know that this could be an opportunity to identify PTSD. Continue to be sensitive and attentive while trying to gain their trust.
Q: Are there any ideas of how we can strengthen our relationship with the VA Hospitals in our area?
- A: Building a relationship with the chaplain or other from the VA center would be a good first step. Not a relationship to promote referrals but rather to share expertise and to facilitate transitioning. Any other hospices in your area should be welcomed into this relationship as well.
Q: Can we hang fliers in VA service building to help our hospice to recruit Veteran Volunteers.
- A: This can be discussed one on one level with the facility but I believe it could be done.
Partner Networking/Success Stories
- The way we attended to our Vietnam Veteran was to allow the nurse, whom the patient had gained a relationship with, to conduct a very personal pinning ceremony.
- Another organization working with Vietnam veterans recommends approaching them with the thought of “doing it for the friends who never came back”. Also changing the phasing from Veteran to asking if they participated in the Armed Forces.
- The Veteran’s History Project is a forum that can help facilitate interviewing and interacting with Veterans. The website for this is www.loc.gov/vets
- Several hospices are looking for a way to reduce the orientation process for Veteran volunteers as well as the opportunity to share Veteran volunteers with community hospices. Scott shared his dream of hospices sharing the Veteran volunteer curriculum in a central Veteran location and splitting responsibilities equally amongst the community hospices.
Wrap Up and Next Meeting
- NHPCO update regarding new staff members to the access team.
- The next meeting will be September 14, 2016.