Helping U.S. veterans tap into resources, receive the recognition they deserve and finish their lives at peace are what motivate Schana Rosales, the Veteran Liaison for Heart to Heart Hospice of East Texas. For Veterans Day, we recognize the importance of veteran-specific services in hospice.

With a background in home health, Schana’s passion to work with veterans started with an accidental connection with a veterans officer. That served as a springboard for her to “get it right for veterans” and she began educating herself to become an advocate. She has a beloved uncle who was a veteran and recognizes the family sacrifices of those who served.

Schana is admittedly “geeky” about veterans, making sure they have the resources they need even before hospice care is required. She’s training Heart to Heart Hospice staff to have a veteran-centric culture, in addition to their other patient care. She travels to meet with Veterans Affairs (VA) contacts, patients in their homes or residential facilities, and local veteran organizations. She works tirelessly to connect veterans with available resources they might not be tapping into and holding community events to honor veterans.

Veteran Hospice Care Programs & Benefits

From bedside pinning ceremonies to specialized mental health care resources, Heart to Heart Hospice provides specialized veteran-support care. These services include:

Veteran-Specific Programs: Heart to Heart Hospice locations are part of the We Honor Veterans program to increasingly serve veterans better. Schana is working with her East Texas locations to strengthen their commitment to veteran services. The Heart to Heart Hospice Foundation veteran resources provide additional support for those who qualify, such as emergency financial support, legal services, legacy programs, and more.

Access to VA Benefits: Veterans may be eligible for hospice care benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Hospice providers can help veterans and their families navigate the VA system and access the benefits they are entitled to, which can help cover the costs of hospice care.

PTSD and Trauma-Informed Care: Hospice care teams should be trained in trauma-informed care to provide support and understanding to veterans dealing with service-related issues, including combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and soul injury. Soul Injury is a program that Schana is working closely with, to train staff to help address unresolved issues and unmourned loss, guilt, and shame in veterans.

Military History and Cultural Competency: An educated staff regarding a veteran’s military service history and their unique cultural background is essential for providing respectful and sensitive care.

Pain and Symptom Management: Veterans may have unique health conditions related to their service, and these conditions may require specialized pain and symptom management. 

Spiritual and Emotional Support: Veterans often have strong ties to their military service, and they may want to discuss their experiences, regrets, or concerns with someone who understands. Hospice chaplains, counselors, or veteran volunteers can provide emotional and spiritual support tailored to veterans’ needs.

Family Support: Hospice care is not just about the patient but also about supporting their family. Veterans’ family members may need additional emotional and practical support, given the challenges that often come with military service.

Recognition and Honor: Special recognition and ceremonies for veterans, such as pinning ceremonies, flag presentations, or recognition of military service help veterans feel appreciated and respected. This also includes hosting community events to recognize and connect with veterans. It’s never too late to thank a veteran, even near the end of their life.

Top 3 Veteran Needs in Hospice 

At Heart to Heart Hospice, Schana shares three main areas she believes best serve veterans:

  1. Educating about available veteran benefits and facilitating connection so veterans and spouses can fully utilize what’s available.
  2. Helping veterans deal with soul injury issues and mental/emotional health to help lessen the burden and have a peaceful final season of life.
  3. Recruiting vet-to-vet volunteers to serve.

Heart to Heart Hospice is unique in its service to veterans, including having dedicated staff members like Schana to serve them. It’s obvious Schana loves her job, who says she sometimes “feels guilty” for getting paid for the work she’s so passionate about. 

She cherishes her first veteran contact, Mr. Dan, who she says became like an adopted grandpa. A tough Army Ranger veteran whom she met at a veterans event, Mr. Dan initially declined his need for hospice care. When he eventually called during his final stages of cancer,  Schana was able to deliver his medications and sit with him and his family. He passed only a few hours later. Schana always remembers fondly Mr. Dan and his wife.

“Anything I dreamed of doing, God exceeded my expectations,” she said. “I meet veterans barely hanging on, then they start working on unresolved issues and they pass away very peacefully.” 

Thank you to the dedicated veterans who’ve served and sacrificed! Heart to Heart Hospice honors you this Veterans Day.