“We need to remind people, that the real heroes wear dog tags…” says Chaplain Scalf, Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care, Akron-Canton, OH.
It’s a fact that the demographic of American Veterans is getting older overall. After all, less than 1 percent of Americans actually serve in the military today. Regardless, half a million Veterans will be in need of end-of-life care each year for the next five years.
We recently explored the quickly declining number of World War II Veterans still alive today. Their impact, their hospice experience and what it means to see them go are all parts of the reality of hospice care for those Veterans, their family and their care providers.
With the end of an era comes a refocus; an acknowledgement of the future and a shift in frequency of particular Veterans being admitted to hospice and palliative care. Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan: these are the Veterans who will soon need the help of places like Crossroads more so than those of our “greatest generation” as we move forward.
And we want them to know now: We promise to care more, and we can make a difference.
Chaplain Bruce Bray, of Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care in Independence, Missouri, notes some of the challenges in making such a shift.
“[World War II Veterans] have had more time to process it,” he says.
“[Younger Veterans] are the ones that are still wrestling with [the things they did in war]. It seems like it takes about 30 years before they finally get ahold of what they did and either forgive themselves or reconcile themselves spiritually with those things.”
With unique experiences, stories and challenges of their own, Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care understands the potential differences it will take to care more and facilitate the best and most comfortable possible end-of-life experience for these men and women. Bruce knows each case warrants its own touch.
“We meet the patient where they are spiritually,” he says. “We don’t come with an agenda to impose.”
Crossroads’ message to these Veterans and their families is simple: We’re here to make that difference.
For the Veterans entering the end of their lives, Crossroads promises to:
- Meet your physical needs, and provide comfort and care
- Meet your spiritual needs, and provide guidance if you want it
- Meet your emotional needs, and be an ear to listen to your stories, regrets and complicated emotions about your service and sacrifices
It all boils down to one simple quote from a story about two years ago:
“[Veterans] make a huge difference in our world – in our country,” says Crossroads staff member Cord Fowler, “and they deserve a hero’s send off.”
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