Factors to consider with end of life care for veterans

Thomas Crisp Contributing Columnist

November 15, 2013

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, 26 million veterans are living in the United States today. Twenty-five percent of all deaths in the U.S. are veterans and more than 1,800 veterans die each day.

Although these statistics may be surprising, what is even more staggering is the fact that only 33 percent of veterans receive benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Only 4 percent of veterans die in a VA facility, leaving 96 percent to pass away in a community-based service.

Finding a community hospice trained in veteran services can make a major difference in both the patient and their family’s experience during one’s end-of-life.

Hospice providers that are trained in the We Honor Veterans program are equipped to recognize the unique needs of veterans who are facing a life-limiting illness. The program trains caretakers to be sensitive to the notion that lifelong scars left behind from war can come to the surface when a veteran faces a terminal illness.

Look for caretakers who are trained in veteran issues so they can help you and your loved one achieve a more peaceful ending. In certain cases where there might be some specific needs related to the veteran’s military service, combat experience or other traumatic events, these hospices are able to provide the tools that will support those they are caring for. Individuals who were prisoners of war, those who have experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the amount of time they spent in a war, the branch of service in which they served, their rank and whether they enlisted or were drafted are all factors that caretakers need to consider.

Although not everyone is the same, many veterans may be happy to celebrate their service. One way you or your hospice caretaker can help do this is by asking the patient if they would like to be issued new medals and awards if they were lost or stolen. The process of replacing the medals will allow for you to gain new knowledge of the veteran’s service, while also allowing you to show your gratitude for their sacrifice. For more information visit [Source: Mission Home Health | Laura Semmler | 29 Oct 2013]

iHistory WWII: National video contest

Do you know someone who served in World War II? There are 1.2 million WWII veterans still living but time is running out to hear their stories. The iHistory WW2 video contest is a national competition to inspire teen filmmakers to capture these stories on film. Aspiring young American filmmakers (ages 13-18) have the opportunity to hear and record these stories firsthand, make a mini-documentary, and win coveted prizes for themselves and their school. The total value of combined prizes is over $11,000. iHistory WW2 is working with the Library of Congress to preserve the interviews in their archives. For details about the contest, the Official Rules, and registration go to

Medal of Honor stamps

The U.S. Postal Service issued special Medal of Honor stamps on Veterans Day. The first side of the four-page design highlights 12 photographs of the last living recipients of the Medal of Honor from World War II. In January 2012, the Postal Service invited these men to join in honoring the extraordinary courage of every individual who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the war. All the men pictured agreed to participate in this momentous event. Sadly, Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Vernon McGarity died before the stamps could be issued, as did Nicholas Oresko, who died after the stamps were printed. To learn more about the stories behind the new stamps, visit the U.S. Postal Service Blog at

POW/MIA update

A host of critics and a government report contend that the military is coming up short with one of its most sacred tasks: finding, identifying and returning the bodies of missing American soldiers. No one disputes the difficulty of the job facing the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC).

More than 83,000 Americans are missing from World War II and more recent conflicts. More than 600 people work in the agencies tasked with finding them, according to a Defense Department spokeswoman. Even critics of the accounting agencies note that rank-and-file workers are extremely dedicated to the cause. Still, a Government Accountability Office report released in July details instances of recovery agencies engaging in bureaucratic scrums that often seemed to have more to do with congressional appropriations and prestige than finding the body of a Marine still mourned seven decades after he was killed. Legislators called agency leaders to testify on Capitol Hill about the report’s findings. The report notes that JPAC and other accounting agencies have been slow to order exhumations of unknowns already buried on U.S. soil. [Source: Chicago Tribune | Mitch Smith | 23 Oct 2013]