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Hospice volunteer program for veterans in the US

05 March 2013

Volunteer programs are being tailored specifically for veterans at the end of life in the United States.

Of the 2.4 million deaths in the United States each year, approximately 680,000 are veterans, and many veterans are unaware of the support that they can receive. Volunteer programs have been implemented to ensure that veterans receive the support and care that they need.

No veteran dies alone

The No Veteran Dies Alone aims to make sure that no veteran dies alone, by providing volunteers to accompany veterans at the end of life.

At the White River Junction VA Medical Center, Patti Crimmin-Greenan and Priscilla West have begun to implement the No Veteran Dies Alone program, which aims to introduce and train volunteers who will provide around-the-clock presence for veterans that stay at one of the two hospice suites in the hospital. The first group of 10 volunteers have begun training for the program in February, and will soon begin to actively engage with veterans in March 2013.

The No Veteran Dies Alone program is part of a national effort to provide companionship by specially trained volunteers to accompany veterans at the end of life. Volunteers provide comfort when friends and family are unable to be near patients entering the final stages of life.

The responsibilities for the volunteer may include talking to the veteran, holding their hand, reading, playing music, providing support and helping to make them comfortable.

More information about the program being implemented in White River Junction can be found in this Valley News article

We honor veterans

The We Honor Veterans is a collaborative project between the NHPCO and the Department of Veterans Affairs which offers educational tools and resources. Their aim is to support and promote veterans at the end of life.

The "Vet to Vet" volunteer program, part of the We Honor Veterans initiative, recruits and trains veterans to assist other veterans at the end of life. The unique curriculum trains veterans to become hospice volunteers to help other veterans manage problems such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

We Honor Veterans provides large amounts of technical support and educational resources for helping veterans manage medical, psychosocial and bereavement needs. More information about the Vet to Vet program can be found on the We Honor Veterans website. The November 2012 issue of Newsline, the NHPCO monthly publication, contains a large feature about veterans hospice and palliative care. 

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