At the VNA, Veterans hold a very special place in our heart. It’s why we joined the We Honor Veterans (WHV) initiative in 2020, a program developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans that addresses the unique needs Veterans have when it comes to end-of-life care. Currently, the VNA is a Level 3 partner of We Honor Veterans, and we consider our participation vital, particularly considering that the majority of Veterans are not members of the VA and may not be aware of end-of-life services and benefits available to them, including the Medicare Hospice Benefit and VA-paid hospice care, according to WHV.
As a Level 3 partner of We Honor Veterans, VNA Hospice has established a Veteran-to-Veteran Volunteer Program that recruits and pairs Veteran Volunteers with hospice patients who are also Veterans, creating a unique synergy where life review and healing may occur. “The focus of our Veteran-to-Veteran Program is to provide supportive services to our patients who are Veterans. Volunteers provide socialization and comfort to the patients as well as respite for the caregivers,” says VNA Director of Volunteers, Sara Bumgarner.
While the VNA has been actively recruiting volunteers for the Veteran-to-Veteran Program for VNA Hospice patients for about a year, it has recently expanded into VNA Private Care for both our Indian River and Brevard County clients. Meaning, VNA’s Volunteer Department is actively recruiting Veteran volunteers to provide supportive services for our private care patients who are also Veterans through a new initiative that VNA Private Care has recently coordinated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA calls this program “noninstitutional care,” and its objective is to keep Veterans at home and out of long-term settings such as assisted living facilities. It achieves this goal by contracting with companies that offer private care, in this case the VNA, whose nursing assistants and health aides assist Veterans with daily tasks. This provides respite for the Veterans’ primary caregivers, allowing them time to recharge and increasing the likelihood that they will be there for their loved ones for the duration instead of risking burnout. “Providing Veterans’ caregivers with desperately needed respite, we definitely have kept vets at home longer than they could have otherwise, and we are really proud of that,” says Jessica Cassone, Administrator of VNA Private Care, who notes that last year VNA Private Care provided over 7,000 hours of Veteran care. A significant number of these hours included Veteran-to-Veteran volunteers, something Sara and Jessica – and all of us at the VNA – are very proud of and grateful for.
A big round of applause for our Veteran volunteers!
For more information about VNA’s Volunteer program or to become a Veteran-to-Veteran volunteer, please visit vnatc.com/volunteer.