Caring for Veterans
VITAS honors those who served America by serving them near the end of life.
We offer hospice care to veterans with a wide range of advanced illnesses. Our teams of experienced hospice professionals are trained to understand the veteran’s unique needs at the end of life.
I really appreciate the attention that is paid to veterans from VITAS. I think particularly at the end of life, they need some specialized care.-Dr. Faith Protsman, VITAS regional medical director
As of 2020, Vietnam veterans make up 6,258,000 of the approximate 19 million living veterans, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Vietnam veterans face unique challenges as a result of their service including psychological impacts and moral injuries, in addition to chemical exposure and other combat-related clinical health conditions.
By recognizing the unique needs of veterans who are coping with advanced illness, VITAS can guide these men and women toward a more peaceful ending. This is especially important for veterans who experienced combat or other trauma, particularly if unaddressed experiences, memories or emotions resurface near the end of life.
“With veterans who experience post-traumatic stress or went through some type of trauma, if we don't recognize the signs and the symptoms of that, we're not going to be giving the best care, and we would definitely be underserving and undertreating these American heroes,” says Nancy Auster, RN, VITAS admissions nurse. “That's why VITAS has taken the initiative.”
VITAS thoroughly examines the military history of each veteran patient upon admission to develop a full picture of their medical, psychosocial and spiritual needs at the end of life. This also provides VITAS with a better understanding of how to appropriately recognize the patient’s service and show appreciation through memorial services, pinning ceremonies, bedside salutes, Honor Flight trips and more.
We Honor Veterans Participation
Many VITAS hospice locations work in cooperation with We Honor Veterans, an established program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that focuses on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment of veterans.
As part of We Honor Veterans, VITAS trains and educates community partners and caregivers on veterans’ unique needs.
VITAS advanced illness specialists are trained to support the difficult circumstances faced by some veterans near the end of life, including financial and benefit concerns, post-traumatic stress disorder, unresolved issues associated with military service, depression and suicide.
The VA or community-based healthcare providers can refer veterans to VITAS. Veterans also can contact us directly to discuss our services.
VITAS maintains strong, strategic relationships with multiple veteran organizations to facilitate special recognitions and help connect local veterans with their seriously ill comrades, each of whom can benefit from the other’s perspective and experience.
Other key features of our services for veterans include:
- A streamlined referral and admission process
- Familiarity with the VA system and how to identify and access benefit options for veterans
- Coverage of hospice care for veterans by the VA, TRICARE, Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and other forms of reimbursement
- Coordination of care with the staff of the local VA medical center, including joint visits when appropriate
- VITAS liaisons, who in many locations are veterans themselves, function as communications contacts and primary educational resources to the VA and local veterans’ organizations
- Referrals for additional community services, as needed
- A full range of bereavement support, including grief and loss programs, support groups and memorial services for veterans’ loved ones up to 13 months after a death
- Recognition and celebration of important events, including Veterans Day and military anniversaries
VITAS Veterans Resource Guide
VITAS ensures that all veterans receive compassionate and appropriate end-of-life care. Our 16-page Veterans Resource Guide provides helpful information to veterans and their family members about benefits, sources of aid, websites, community groups, and Veterans Affairs (VA) forms and resources.