Iroquois Memorial Hospice has a “We Honor Veterans” program which gives special recognition of veterans who have come under care of the hospice for their service to our country.
Retired USAF Captain Aaron Hattabaugh has been a visiting volunteer with the program for the last 10 years. He said part of his role is to assist with additional aid and comfort to patients and their caregivers.
He’s one of four volunteers, and hospice is always looking for more, he said.
“Any military veteran interested in providing comfort to a fellow veteran who has entered hospice” is sought to spend time with their fellow veterans in the program.
All veterans can be part of the program, he said. “Whether a person has served a day or made it a career in any branch of the Armed Forces, he or she qualifies if they’ve ever taken the oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The word about the program is getting out, and there are more and more veterans taking part.
It’s something a little different for the veterans in the program.
“A veteran patient may request a veteran volunteer as someone who can bridge the age groups by virtue of the commonality of being in a long line of brothers and sisters who have served our country. In doing do, the veteran patient will often find unique solace with such a specialized rapport that sometimes cannot be found even with family.
“Hospice provides additional service by offering the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program to the veteran and family members. The program begins with a visit from a program team usually consisting of the veteran volunteer, hospice chaplain, and community outreach coordinator for a reverent presentation of a certificate and lapel pin to the patient with family and friends attending.
“The hospice also provides assistance in coordinating military rites conducted by the American Legion and often accommodates any special requests by the family,” said Hattabaugh.
He said the program team consists of a veteran volunteer, the hospice chaplain, and usually the community outreach coordinator meets with veterans and their families to honor their service with a certificate of recognition and a lapel pin.
“With COVID-19 mitigation policies in place at resident homes, the team has adapted to minimal personal contact by having the chaplain physically with the veteran while the hospice veteran volunteer pays special tribute via the video chat application Skype.”
Veterans and their families may contact the Iroquois Memorial Hospice front desk at (815) 432-0185 to learn more about the program. Prospective volunteers may inquire at the same number, Hattabaugh said.