We Honor Veterans Partner Networking Call Recording 06/28/17

Katherine Kemp – NHPCO Access Manager

  • Welcome and introductions for recently added community partners Cypress Pointe Health & Rehab and Hanover Terrace Health Care.
  • We are excited about the many projects and opportunities going on related to We Honor Veterans.

Amanda Bow – NHPCO Director of Communications

  • We encourage our partners to share their stories with We Honor Veterans and NHPCO to spread the word about the great work that is being done for our Veterans.
  • We Honor Veterans program partners are encouraged to take part in NHPCO’s annual Creative Arts Contest. Partners and providers are asked to submit stories (in the form of photos, blogs, or poems) about impactful relationships within the hospice and palliative care community.
    • The deadline is July 21. More information about the contest and submissions can be found here.
  • Entry into the Creative Arts Contest as a We Honor Veterans partner includes a submission to the We Honor Veterans Story Contest.
    • The deadline is August 1. The link above has more information.
  • If you have any questions, please email Amanda at abow@nhpco.org.
  • Please follow, interact with, and share with We Honor Veterans (@WeHonorVeterans) on Twitter!

Lauren Drew – NHPCO Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator

  • The Hospice Action Network’s 2017 Advocacy Intensive in Washington, D.C. is July 17th and 18th. Advocates are trained how to talk to Congress members about policy, regulatory issues, and other problems related to hospice patients and Veterans.
    • Registration is still open and scholarships are available with more information here.
    • Utah, New Mexico, and Alaska are just some of the states that we are especially looking for advocates from.
    • If you are interested or have any questions, please contact Lauren at ldrew@nhpco.org or visit hospiceactionnetwork.org.
    • If unavailable to come to Washington, D.C., we will be hosting a virtual “Hill Day” on July 17th and 18th to have partners email and call their Congress members for support of hospice and palliative care.
  • This Veterans Day we encourage you to invite your members of Congress to any Veterans Day events you are planning to allow them to meet the Veterans you serve and understand more about the complexity of their needs. We can help you get in contact with your Congress people if needed.

Moira Flanders & Scott Bell – Veterans’ Survivor Benefits

  • Moira is the Director and Scott the Deputy Director of the Office of Survivors Assistance (OSA) in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
  • The primary objective of OSA is to take care of survivors (parents, spouses, children, siblings) of Veterans. The OSA was established to navigate the three branches of the VA for survivors to obtain and understand benefits available to them.
  • A bereavement survey demonstrated that the majority of Veterans’ survivors were unaware of the benefits available to them upon the Veteran’s death. With all the responsibilities that come with a person’s death, the family often did not have the time to understand or search for the available benefits.
  • Overview of benefits that may be available to survivors of Veterans:
    • Benefits mirror those available to Veterans – financial, educational, health care, burial benefits, and more.
  • Common questions from survivors and families:
    • Am I qualified for these benefits?
    • I applied for a benefit and it has been a long time, can you tell me what is going on?
    • I have an issue that is dealing with the VHA and they are not sharing information with VBA, how do I ensure I am getting the benefits I deserve?
  • Veterans and their benefits situation are different so utilizing the OSA is very important to understand each specific circumstance.
  • Many factors play a role in the compensation and benefits that Veterans receive depending on their location, number of dependents, and much more.
    • Type of discharge, disability status, and service-related injury also influence the benefits that they are eligible for.
    • Depending on the era of service, the Veteran’s family may be eligible for a stipend for caregiving.
  • Proactive steps may be taken to ensure that Veterans and their families receive benefits such as filling out the Pre-Need Eligibility for Burial Form.
  • It is important that hospices act appropriately to ensure that the Veteran and their family are prepared for death and beyond in regards to benefits.
  • Even if a deceased Veteran did not have any relationship with the VA, the surviving spouse may establish a service-connected component of the patient’s death to qualify for benefits.
    • Presence of a DD214 form will significantly help the process of obtaining benefits.
  • There are millions of Veterans that have not connected to the VA due to a misunderstanding of qualification requirements.
  • The VA provides benefits for the burial expenses, such as the gravesite, headstone, opening and closing of the grave, and many other costs.

Q&A

  • Q: Does a Veteran that commits suicide from service-related PTSD qualify for benefits that a Veteran with direct service-related injury would?
    A: If there is documentation that the Veteran has or is at risk for PTSD from a VA facility, they are eligible for their death to be considered service-related. Even if documentation does not exist at the time of death, families can demonstrate that the Veteran had PTSD-like symptoms.
  • Q: How do we reach the OSA?
    A: The telephone number is 202-461-1077 and the email is officeofsurvivors@va.gov. Their website is www.va.gov/survivors.
  • Q: Is there any advice for streamlining the process of connecting with the VA and becoming informed about benefits since hospices do not have long periods of time with the patients?
    A: A Veteran does not have to have passed away before the family contacts OSA. The process of benefit disbursement is typically fast (within 60 days). Submission of incomplete claims prolongs the process, so it is important to have a complete claim the first time. If there are immediate needs for the deceased Veteran’s family, contact the OSA.
  • Q: If a sibling was responsible for the care of the Veteran receiving benefits, would she be eligible to receive benefits?
    A: The current laws regarding financial benefits do not allow a sibling to receive benefits, but she would likely be eligible for bereavement counseling. She would not be able to receive a stipend retroactively for caring for the Veteran.
  • Q: Regarding discharge papers, can Veterans of all wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc.) access their record online?
    A: Records from any period of time can be requested from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), which is managed by the National Archives and can be requested online here. A fire in the 1970s destroyed many records at certain times. Teams can help reconstruct DD214 forms and can be put back together if they were destroyed.
  • Q: How quickly can the service records be provided to the family or hospice?
    A: If needed in an emergency such as death, the NPRC can provide the record very quickly. Outside of an emergency, it can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months depending on if the record was damaged or lost.

Mora Johnson – StoryCorps for Veterans in Hospice

  • StoryCorps archives stories and conversations between loved ones at the Library of Congress.
  • The Legacy Project, run by StoryCorps over the last 7 years to collect the story of patients dealing with serious illness.
    • Resources were developed with the intention that health care providers may record the stories and conversations with ease.
  • StoryCorps provides training, resources, and even sometimes equipment (an app or StoryCorps themselves) for health care facilities to have the capacity to collect stories.
  • StoryCorps travels around the United States to collect and archive stories using a mobile unit.
  • We encourage our partners to use the StoryCorps app to record stories for free.
    • Patients can download the app themselves and record the stories or a member of the hospice may sit down with the Veteran and record their stories.
  • Handouts for more information may be found here: https://www.wehonorveterans.org/story-corps-resources
  • A community page has already been created for We Honor Veterans to collect all of the stories collected by our partners.
    • To join, click “Join Community” and create a free account to start adding.
    • Sample questions for Veterans have already been posted in the community.

Q&A

  • Q: Is the app exclusive to Veterans or can it be used for other patients?
    A: The app can be used for any patient and is encouraged. The We Honor Veterans community page is specific to Veterans, however.
  • Q: Where does the mobile unit travel to?
    A: The mobile unit travels all over the country and stops in different cities. The schedule for the mobile tour can be found online.
  • Q: If a patient has shared a story with me and since passed away, am I able to record the story?
    A: If the family is contacted and permission is granted, you may be able to record the story. However, it is most common that a memorial recording is done by someone who knew the patient over a long period of time.
  • Q: If I am not proficient with technology and apps, what can I do to record the stories and get them posted on StoryCorps?
    A: If the mobile tour comes to your city, it would be easy to have them explain it to you as well as record your story. We also do additional training for hospices and hospitals if needed. Additionally, perhaps there is a member of the family that is able to deal with the technology and record the story or conversation.
  • Q: How do you record the conversations on the app?
    A: One method is to record using the app. The layout is pretty simple to navigate and it walks you through how to use it, but it is recorded on the app. Another option is to use a digital recorder by uploading it from a laptop/computer.

Wrap Up and Next Meeting

  • The long-awaited End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) update is now available on the We Honor Veterans website and can be found here.
  • Our next Partner Networking Call will be on September 13th at 2:00pm (EST).