On December 19, 2014 I got a call from Rebecca Trout, the manager of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organizations’ We Honor Veteran’s Program (NHPCO). The call was not at all what I had expected. I anticipated a question about our activity level reports or perhaps notification of a change in the program. Instead, Rebecca was calling to invite me to represent Heart ‘n Home at a We Honor Veterans strategic planning meeting at NHPCOs office in Alexandria, VA. The goal of the meeting was to generate ideas and develop a three-year plan to sustain the We Honor Veterans Program. Immediately, I was excited! This was an opportunity to impact end-of-life care for our Veterans on a national level. Of course I wanted to attend! Rebecca explained the details. The meeting was to be held just three weeks later in 2015. So, after many phone calls, emails and texts between myself, Rebecca, and our amazing Senior Leadership Team at Heart ‘n Home my flight was booked and I was ready to go.
When I arrived at NHPCO in Virginia I was immediately greeted with a warm smile by Gwynn Sullivan, Director of Access. She shared how impressed she was with the We Honor Veterans Program that Heart ‘n Home had developed. She also shared her excitement to have me share with NHPCOs senior leadership, VA Leadership, and other community hospice partners how Heart ‘n Home has developed our program and achieved a level four status. They were particularly curious about our program due to the relatively rural areas we serve. Again my excitement increased, but so did my anxiety, no pressure right? I realized very quickly there was no need for anxiety, no need to feel pressure. After all, everyone in the room was there with one purpose in mind, to improve quality end-of-life care for our nation’s Veterans. The purpose and the passion behind it was evident by the enthusiastic collaboration that took place over the next six hours.
Over those six hours were success stories and shared hopes for the future. Initially, we began with peer discussions to identify the components necessary to build and sustain a successful program. Next, we brought our ideas to a small group where we reviewed our ideas from our peer discussions and applied them to more specific goals for the program. Finally, we came together as a large group and determined what goals we wanted to focus on and pursue in the next three years of the program. There were so many great ideas and concepts introduced it was hard to narrow it down to just a few! One theme that was present in each groups’ ideas was the continued need to educate and expand the knowledge of end-of-life care, something that is so often not acknowledged or addressed openly in our culture. Additionally, at the top of our list was the importance of increasing access to care and VA benefits for Veterans. Moving forward, the participants of this meeting will come together on a quarterly basis via conference call to discuss progress made and work toward achieving the goals we developed.
Later that evening, I was able visit the WWII and Korean War Memorials. As I walked through the memorials and read the inscriptions I experienced a myriad of emotions. I was walking through a memorial created to honor the men and women who welcome me and my coworkers into their home every day, the same men and women who fought for the freedoms we now enjoy. Heart ‘n Home and hospices around the country have been given the opportunity to serve the Veterans who served our county. We have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives’ of the Veterans who returned home and honor those who didn’t. As I walked through the memorials, I realized the work we did that day was a privilege, a small expression of gratitude to make sure our Veterans receive the best care possible, every day, every time. I am proud to be a We Honor Veterans partner and look forward to what the future holds for the program and the Veterans it serves.
Learn more about the We Honor Veterans Program.
Cherise B., LMSW
Heart ‘n Home Hospice & Palliative Care, LLC