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Hospice of the Valley among nation’s best for service to veterans

Hospice of the Valley has been recognized by the national “We Honor Veterans” program for increasing access and improving quality of end-of-life care for military veterans. One in four dying Americans is a veteran.

“We Honor Veterans” is a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The program provides four tiers of recognition to organizations that demonstrate increasing levels of commitment to serving veterans. Hospice of the Valley was recognized for providing excellent care at the highest level.

“Hospice of the Valley has long served and honored military veterans through our Saluting Our Veterans program,” said Debbie Shumway, executive director, Hospice of the Valley. “Achieving this recognition strengthens our partnerships with other organizations that care for veterans and provides assurance about the quality of our care.”

Saluting Our Veterans provides patients:

  • A visit from a volunteer who also is a veteran.
  • A special lapel pin honoring the patient’s military service.
  • A gift of a branch of service flag to the veteran.
  • Participation in community events recognizing veterans.
  • Support from staff trained in issues that could emerge at end-of-life, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Launched in 2011, Saluting Our Veterans was designed to honor and thank military veterans for their service to our country, said Stacia Ortega, director of volunteer services, Hospice of the Valley.

“During a Salutes visit, veteran volunteers take a moment to visit one-on-one with the patient, giving the patient a chance to connect and share stories with another veteran who understands,” Ortega said. “The patient is honored with a ceremonial pin and branch of service flag.” The visit takes place wherever the patient resides—a personal residence, facility or inpatient care home.

Nearly 2,300 veterans who are Hospice of the Valley patients have been honored by Salutes volunteers. Currently 43 volunteers representing every branch of service call upon patients. Salutes volunteers also participate in community veterans’ events.

As is so often the case, volunteers say they get more than they give. “That’s the way I get my hospice pay, their appreciation of me, I can feel it,” said Larry Petrowski, an Air Force judge advocate who retired as a colonel, then practiced civilian law.

Volunteers also appreciate the camaraderie and trust that flows between fellow military veterans.

“Every one of these people has a story, and it’s nice to listen to it and pass that story on,” said Fred Selinsky, retired Navy chief petty officer. “I hear about their lives, what they’ve gone through. That’s very satisfying. It’s living history.”

For more information, contact Hospice of the Valley, (602) 530-6900, or view hov.org. Founded in 1977, Hospice of the Valley is a not-for-profit provider of hospice and palliative care.