VITAS Provides Specialized Hospice Care for Your Veteran Patients
Physicians and healthcare professionals can be assured that their patients who are military veterans will receive hospice care from VITAS that addresses their unique end-of-life medical and psychosocial needs, supports their families, and honors their service.
At VITAS, our dedication to veteran patients and families is embodied in a simple but powerful concept: Every Day Is Veterans Day at VITAS®.
All VITAS team members—from clinicians to volunteers—are trained to inquire at admission about a patient’s military service and experiences.
We ensure veterans receive:
- Specialized medical care
- Emotional support
- Spiritual support
- Disease-directed therapies, including respiratory therapy, massage therapy, and more
- Bedside salutes and front porch salutes
- Pinning ceremonies
We believe families of veterans are key to the care plan. They receive help with:
- Anticipatory and posthumous grief
- Funeral planning and memorials
- Navigating and acquiring deserved military benefits
Increasing Access to End-of-Life Care for Veterans
Research suggests that veterans are less likely to seek out aggressive curative care near the end of life,1 and those receiving care in US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals are specifically less likely to receive that kind of care.2
Hospice utilization among veterans has been lower than that of the general population and compared to non-veteran Medicare recipients. The VA’s four-year Comprehensive End-of-Life Care initiative set out to improve hospice enrollment among this population. The VA’s substantial investment in palliative care appears to have resulted in greater hospice use by older male veterans enrolled in the VA, a critical step forward in caring for veterans with serious illnesses.3
These findings indicate that many veterans are already aligned with the goals and mission of hospice, and VITAS remains ready to provide the care they seek.
Download Our Pledge to Veterans for the ways we support your veteran patients and their families.
How We Help Veterans Near End of Life
Deep Experience and Key Partnerships with Veterans Organizations
Veterans and their families receive extra levels of care, thanks to our expertise and partnerships.
- Trained and experienced team members have extensive knowledge of VA benefits available to veterans, based on branch and years/locations of service.
- VITAS teams can explain available benefits, recover long-lost medals, and arrange for funerals/burials at national cemeteries.
- Many VITAS programs work directly with local VA facilities as partners in care.
- We work with veterans and their families/survivors to make sure their hospice and VA benefits work together to provide the best hospice coverage and care.
- We provide tailored education for our community partners (nursing homes, assisted living facilities, physicians, nursing organizations, and hospitals) about veterans’ unique end-of-life medical care and emotional needs so that they, too, can provide high-level care for veteran patients.
- We educate family members on how to care for their veteran near the end of life.
Expertise and Shared Experiences for Veteran Patients
One key differentiator for VITAS is our expanded care team. We recognize that only a veteran can truly understand another veteran’s experiences, which is why we hire veterans as full-time employees and recruit veterans as hospice volunteers.
“I really appreciate the attention that is paid to veterans from VITAS. So often, veterans and their special needs are overlooked. I think particularly at the end of life, they need some specialized care.”-Dr. Faith Protsman, VITAS regional medical director
Our hospice professionals understand firsthand the physical and emotional challenges linked to military service, deployment, injury, and combat. They are familiar with the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges that often emerge as veterans look back on their lives in search of closure, recognition, and the meaning of their service.
Some veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, survivor’s guilt, or emotional pain. VITAS encourages and facilitates veteran-to-veteran chats to help veteran patients share experiences and work through anxieties related to their service. Our teams are prepared to help these veterans address and resolve service- or combat-related experiences, memories, and emotions.
Vietnam veterans often face specific psychological impacts and moral injuries due to the circumstances surrounding their service. With 6,258,000 Vietnam veterans making up a large proportion of living veterans in 2020, VITAS remains equipped with the expertise to help them combat their unique trauma.
“Ten years ago, nobody heard of the phrase ‘moral injury,’” says Admissions Nurse Nancy Auster. “Today we are very aware of what moral injury is and we've provided training to our staff to help them recognize, identify, care, and provide interventions for this unique obstacle that someone experiences because of something they went through in the military.”
Meaningful Recognition for Veterans and Community Support
VITAS also makes sure all veterans receive the recognition and thanks they deserve for serving our country. Efforts include:
- Installation of Veterans Honor Walls at care facilities so that entire communities can publicly recognize and honor their veteran residents/patients.
- Proud partner of We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Sponsorship of Honor Flight excursions to the nation’s capital.
- For veterans who are unwilling or unable to travel, we organize “flightless” Honor Flight events in their own communities or “virtual reality” (VR) Honor Flight experiences for bedbound patients via VR headsets.
- Touching bedside salutes in which veterans receive certificates of appreciation, pins, flags, and team salutes for their service and sacrifice.
- Culturally sensitive care for Black veterans related to their time of service, facilitated through partnerships with the Tuskegee Airmen International, Montford Point Marine Association, and others.
Personalized Support for Veterans and Their Families
- VITAS staff members and volunteers provide extra layers of support.
- Partnering facilities host vet-to-vet conversation sessions, encouraging camaraderie between veterans.
- Admission liaisons who specialize in veteran and community affairs organize recognition ceremonies and memorials during special observances.
- Volunteers sew hand-crafted Memory Bears, made from material, items of clothing, or uniforms donated by family members as lasting reminders of a beloved veteran who has died.
- Volunteers make or crochet military-themed blankets and afghans to provide warmth, comfort, and memories for family members.
- Our bereavement services experts lead phone-in and virtual support for veterans’ specific needs and challenges when nearing the end of life.*
Healthcare professionals can feel confident that their veteran patients will be in caring, knowledgeable hands when they refer them to VITAS for hospice care.
1Duffy, S.A., et al. (2006). Differences in veterans’ and nonveterans’ end-of-life preferences: A pilot study. J Palliat Med. 9:1099–1105.
2Keating, N.L., et al. (2010). End-of-life care for older cancer patients in the Veterans Health Administration versus the private sector. Cancer, 116, 3732–3739.
3Miller, S.C., et al. (2017). Increasing veterans’ hospice use: The Veterans Health Administration’s focus on improving end-of-life care. Health Affairs, 36(7). https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2017.0173
*May be program-specific, please check with your local VITAS representative.