Grand Rapids, Michigan, Nov. 10, 2021 – As the nation honors American heroes for their military service on Veterans Day, Emmanuel Hospice extends recognition and veteran-centric care year-round to military veterans and their families when facing a life-limiting illness.
As a We Honor Veterans partner, Emmanuel Hospice provides specialized end-of-life care to veterans with both clinical and ceremonial elements. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, created the We Honor Veterans program to empower hospice and other healthcare providers across America to meet the unique needs of seriously ill veterans and their families. At Emmanuel Hospice, this includes a veteran-to-veteran volunteer program, recognition and pinning ceremonies and assistance navigating veteran benefits.
The nonprofit is seeking to build its veteran-to-veteran volunteer program to further provide support to patients who are veterans.
“At Emmanuel Hospice, Veterans Day is more than a 24-hour period set aside to honor those who have served in our country’s military,” said Sara Lowe, executive director of Emmanuel Hospice. “Nov. 11 is also an annual reminder to seek out opportunities every day to better serve the men and women who have put their lives on the line for a grateful nation and now find themselves in hospice care.
“By earning our stars through the We Honor Veterans program, we demonstrate our commitment to enhancing care for veterans at the end of life.”
Improving care for veterans aligns with Emmanuel Hospice’s mission, according to Jenny Kellogg, Emmanuel’s support programs manager, noting that the nonprofit provider of hospice care is focused on “how you want to live.”
“We create individualized plans that suit our patients’ physical, spiritual and emotional needs,” Kellogg explained. “Our veterans – and indeed all our patients – deserve nothing less.
“We provide our staff and volunteers with veteran-centric education and create awareness of our patients who are veterans so we can address the unique needs they might have.”
Some of the most moving ways Emmanuel Hospices honors veterans revolve around pinning ceremonies, which serve as a formal thank you to veterans. Emmanuel Hospice offers a ceremony to all its patients who are veterans, customizing each to meet the needs and wishes of every individual.
During pinning ceremonies, patients are formally honored while surrounded by loved ones, accepting a special pin as Emmanuel’s way of expressing its gratitude. The session can last up to a half-hour and include prayer, song, recitations and comments from staff as well as loved ones.
Emmanuel has worked in other ways to lift up veterans, including the use of Oculus Go headsets and the “Honor Everywhere” app, which offers a virtual reality experience for veterans who are too sick or frail to physically travel on an Honor Flight. Using this technology, veterans are able to visit war memorials in Washington, D.C. as if they were there in person.
Emmanuel Hospice connects with other community efforts to support veterans, too. One example is its collaboration with the Ottawa County Juvenile Courts Lighthouse Program, a short-term residential program for girls, to engage area youth in making handmade cards for veterans and other patients.
“It’s all about expressing our gratitude in ways that are especially meaningful,” Kellogg said. “These services can have a tremendous impact on patients and their loved ones as they cherish life’s journey together.”
Veterans or active-duty service members can provide companionship to veteran hospice patients. Veteran-to-veteran volunteering offers an opportunity to swap stories and support one another by sharing the common thread of military service.
“Military training and the culture of stoicism can often prevent veterans from sharing difficult experiences, but we know that sharing supports healing,” Kellogg noted. “When one veteran talks to another, they are able to share a common language and a bond that opens the doors of trust and dissolves barriers.”
Those who are looking for a volunteer opportunity may visit EmmanuelHospice.org/volunteer or contact Volunteer Coordinator Jackie Chandler at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the veteran-to-veteran volunteer program and other volunteer needs.
“Volunteers are the heart of Emmanuel Hospice,” Chandler said. “They help bring to life our philosophy of care that centers on providing comfort, dignity and tranquility to the dying and their loved ones.
“We will help match your talents, skills and interests to the many volunteer opportunities we have available, and you will receive comprehensive training tailored specifically to your area of assignment.”
About Emmanuel Hospice
Emmanuel Hospice is a faith-based nonprofit provider of compassionate, person-centered hospice care to patients and families in West Michigan. Serving the community since 2013, the organization is a collaborative effort of St. Ann’s, Clark, Porter Hills and Sunset designed to complete the continuum by providing end-of-life care to those inside – and outside – the walls of these organizations. For more information, visit EmmanuelHospice.org.