With 19 million veterans nationwide, hundreds of thousands could take advantage of hospice benefits for life-limiting illnesses and end-of-life care. Recognizing the unique needs of veterans, Heart to Heart Hospice partners with We Honor Veterans (WHV), a pioneering program created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

According to the WHV website: “A vast majority of veterans are not enrolled in 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.” Hospice coverage is provided when an individual discontinues curative treatments and is determined when two doctors agree that a patient has a life expectancy of six months or less should the disease take its natural course. Hospice is offered wherever the patient calls home, whether it’s a private residence, VA facility, or nursing home.

As more veterans take advantage of these benefits, they’ll find that hospice dramatically improves their quality of life, increases pain management and comfort care, and provides support for in-home caregivers. Most Medicare and VA hospice benefits are of little to no cost to the patient.

Kelly Mitchell, CEO and Founder of Heart to Heart Hospice, says through partnerships and training, “We will continue to demonstrate our commitment to improving care for veterans and their loved ones at the end of life.”

The goal of hospice partnerships with the We Honor Veterans program is “focused on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment” to guide veterans through hospice with an understanding of their unique needs. Through WHV, Heart to Heart staff is equipped to better understand and address some of the issues faced by veterans:

  • Difficult mental and emotional challenges – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, hopelessness, agitation, flashbacks, and anger
  • Unique physical challenges – chronic pain, presumptive diseases, handicaps, and traumatic brain injuries
  • Social challenges – relationships with others, authority, and cultural norms within and outside of military life
  • Spiritual end-of-life burdens – struggling with forgiveness, the meaning of life or events, and internal turmoil

With an individualized care plan, veteran hospice support includes patient-centric pain and symptom management, assistance with VA benefit enrollment, and collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Plus, veteran-informed care offers a safe, nonjudgmental therapeutic environment. Bereavement and grief support are also available.

How We Serve Veterans

With five levels of hospice stars available from WHV, hospice provider partnerships increasingly benefit the veteran population. The star rankings include:

  • Level 1: Provide veteran-centric education for staff and volunteers, and identify patients with military experience.
  • Level 2: Build organizational capacity to provide quality care for veterans.
  • Level 3: Develop and strengthen relationships with VA medical centers and other veteran organizations.
  • Level 4: Increase access and improve quality of care for veterans in the community.
  • Level 5: Expand partnerships with other organizations in the community and other hospice providers to share knowledge and serve as a mentor.

One way veterans are served includes treating patient needs according to their service experience. First, staff is trained on each patient relating to their specific war or trauma. This includes unique health risks from deployments, wartime experiences, and more. Secondly, population demographics are considered, such as homelessness, substance abuse, services in rural areas, unemployment, mental health, and other influencing factors causing veterans to be underserved or at high risk.

Additional Support and Resources

Beyond education, training for caregivers, and specialized medical and emotional care, the Heart to Heart Hospice Foundation offers additional resources for veterans who qualify. Call 855-432-7826 (855HEART26) to find more information on:

  • Emergency financial support and critical unmet needs
  • Transportation
  • Wounded veteran support
  • Legal services
  • Counseling and other therapies
  • Legacy and honoring programs

If you are a veteran coping with an end-stage illness and would benefit from hospice tailored to your unique needs, please contact Heart to Heart Hospice with services in Michigan, Indiana, and Texas. Here, veterans will find compassion and respect during their hospice journey.