HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Hospice of Central Pennsylvania is looking for military veterans to volunteer for a program to support veteran patients this Memorial Day.
The Vet-to-Vet Visitation program pairs volunteers with military veteran hospice patients.
Hospice of Central Pennsylvania has been participating in the program for the last two years. They care for up to 50 veterans at a time and expect to care for 700 veterans this year.
Hospice workers say veterans can offer a connection to veteran patients that others may not be able to.
“With staff and volunteers, we have specialized training on how to deal with patients at the end of life. But, we may not always understand where they’re coming from and their lives before they were admitted to hospice care,” said Hospice and Palliative Care Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Schaefer. “They might not have been in the same era or the same place, with combat, but they can understand these stories in a way that nobody else can.”
Family members of patients have said the program has even allowed them to learn things about their loved one they never knew.
“Family members are telling us that they’re hearing stories, hearing history about their loved one that they’ve never heard before,” said Fred Anderson with Hospice of Central Pennsylvania. “Some of their stories about being in World War II, or maybe serving in Vietnam, that this veteran patient may not have necessarily conveyed to their family. But, it’s coming out because we’ve connected them with a fellow volunteer.”
All volunteers are provided training that introduces them to hospice concepts, end-of-life issues, and good listening techniques.
The Vet-to-Vet Visitation program is a local affiliate of We Honor Vets, a national program of the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospice and Palliative Care Initiative.
People who wish to volunteer can call Hospice of Central Pennsylvania at 717-732-1000 or 1-866-779-7374, or visit www.hospiceofcentralpa.org/volunteer.