American’s Veterans have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve our country and it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home. Hospice staff may provide the last opportunity for Veterans to feel that their service was not in vain, and that they are appreciated. Simple acts of gratitude at the end-of-life can make up for a lack of appreciation or recognition during the Veteran’s lifetime, especially for those Veterans who were never welcomed home or thanked for their service. As hospice professionals, the following are tips you and your staff can use to engage, honor and recognize the Veterans you serve:
- Give Veterans an opportunity to tell their stories.
- Respect Veterans’ service, their feelings, and any suggestions they might offer.
- Thank Veterans for their service to our country.
- When approaching Veterans for their participation, consider bringing another Veteran with you.
- Show appreciation for the families of Veterans.
- Always be sincere, caring, compassionate and ready and able to listen to what a Veteran or his or her family member has to share about the situation they are dealing with.
- Be supportive and non-judgmental and always validate their feelings and concerns.
- Be honest, sincere, caring and respectful.
- Accept, without judgment, the Veteran as he/she is.
- It might take longer for some Veterans to trust you. Be patient and listen.
- Expect the Veteran’s sharing to occur over a period of time.
Veterans History Project is a great way to honor and pay special tribute to Veterans. A project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, The Veterans History Project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war.