A letter from the Four Seasons Veteran Program Coordinator, Jan Buchanan:
I am honored every day to be able to accompany our patients and families on their end of life journeys. I am invited to hear them recall important life events and encourage them to discover meaning within them, to provide space for them to further explore their spirituality and to “write their own story” as our Chief Operating Officer, Michelle Webb, RN, often says. This recollection brings up a multitude of emotions for people and can have a significant impact on the “story” that they write about the end of their lives. But whatever emotions arise, I have learned that it is incredibly important for individuals to be given the space to share about their experience and to be reminded of their incredible value as a person and of their accomplishments. For approximately 27% of our patients, that means to recognize them for their military service among other things. So, when I learned about the We Honor Veterans program a few years ago, I knew it would be important for Four Seasons to take part.
With the help of a wonderful partnership with our western NC branch of the Military Officers’ Association of America (MOAA), Four Seasons is now a Level II Partner in the We Honor Veterans program. One of the incredible things we are able to do as a result of these partnerships is to honor our veteran patients with a pinning ceremony. The ceremonies are a brief, simple gathering of the patient with his/her family/friends and members of the patient’s clinical team with a member of MOAA to thank that veteran for his/her service. A certificate and pin(s) are awarded and the patient is saluted by the Officer present. Sometimes significant stories are shared, there may be music requested by the patient or family, and likewise sometimes a prayer. But at all of them, there is a spirit of reverence and gratitude for the service that this individual gave to our country.
In the fourteen months since we began offering pinning ceremonies to our patients, we have been privileged to pin 93 patients. I cannot imagine that 2016 will see that rate slow down at all. We have already begun offering some education around veteran’s concerns and are working to increase both staff and volunteer awareness of things that may arise for a veteran during their end of life journey. We have big hopes for additional community partnerships, a Veteran’s Memorial Garden at Elizabeth House and beginning to offer to record veteran’s oral and/or pictoral stories in the coming year. All we need in order to do these things is funding!!!
If you are interested in supporting the efforts of Four Seasons, honoring veterans at the end of life, please call 828-692-6178.
Jan Buchanan M.Div.
Clinical Specialist, Spiritual Care
In the NEWS:
Click here to read about how Four Seasons is advancing care for veterans at the end of life - Blue Ridge Now
Click here to see a short video where Four Seasons is featured honoring veterans on hospic care, on WLOS/News 13
We would like to specially recognize and thank the Millitary Officers Association of America, for their dedication to and support of the Four Seasons We Honor Veterans program.