Hospice of the Valley volunteer Rodney Dehmer with Tom and Jim Dorr and their father, World War II veteran Chester Dorr, who was honored on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day.
Phoenix Business Journal
August 24, 2020
What is your organization's mission?
Hospice of the Valley's mission since 1977 has never wavered: We bring comfort, dignity and compassionate care to our community. We're dedicated to providing personalized care to those who suffer advanced illness, are living with dementia or nearing life's end. As a not-for-profit organization, we serve all who come to us, regardless of insurance status or financial means. Our care teams — consisting of a doctor, nurse, social worker, nurse's aide, chaplain, volunteer and bereavement counselor — provide 24/7 service in the comfort of home or at one of our nine inpatient care homes. We strive to enhance the comfort of our patients and families with special programs, such as massage, music, art and pet therapy; dementia and pulmonary care; comprehensive grief support; a pediatric palliative and hospice care program for medically fragile children; and a tribute program that honors veteran patients at end of life.
Tell us how your story delivers or activates the mission of the organization.
Our Saluting Our Veterans program demonstrates our desire to honor our veteran patients for their service to our country and for the sacrifices they and their loved ones made to preserve our freedoms. A trained Hospice of the Valley volunteer, who is also a veteran, provides this special recognition in a face-to-face visit — bestowing a ceremonial pin and a small flag. The two veterans spend time reminiscing about their years of service, often surprising family members who are delighted to hear stories they have never heard before. These moments are a gift to the veterans, who relive their past with pride; and families are left with precious new memories to treasure when their loved one has passed. Every moment matters and these Salutes visits are a beautiful way for us to bring comfort, dignity and compassionate care into someone's life at a deeply meaningful time. Most of these veterans served long and faithfully and were never recognized or thanked for their courage and dedication. It's a profound honor to shine a light on them and express gratitude for all they have done to protect our nation and our way of life.
Tell us your story and how impactful the work of your organization is improving the lives of the communities you serve.
Denny Bash's military career is one of steely dedication. The Vietnam-era Veteran served 32 years in the Navy — nearly half providing medical support for the Marines. And when his children joined the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, he joined it too.
After 32 years in the Navy, the Vietnam-era veteran signed up for the Marine Corps, and when his children joined the Air Force, he joined it too. But each time he pays a tribute visit to a fellow veteran at end of life, the Hospice of the Valley volunteer gets emotional.
"I cry in every one of them," he says. "I love the service. The military has given me every break in my life and that's the reason I'm giving back."
Bash is one of 45 volunteers — all veterans — with the agency's Saluting Our Veterans program. Since its inception in 2011, the program has honored more than 2,700 veteran patients for their service to the country. The volunteers provide special recognition in a face-to-face visit — bestowing a ceremonial pin and a small flag. The two veterans also spend time reminiscing about their years of service. These moments are a gift to the veteran patients, who relive their past with pride, and to their families, who have precious new memories to treasure when their loved one has passed.
These visits — done virtually during COVID-19 social distancing — are a beautiful way for the nonprofit hospice to bring comfort, dignity and compassionate care into someone's life at a deeply meaningful time."The veteran-to-veteran connection gives them an opportunity to unpack some things they've never shared with anyone, things they will only tell another veteran," Bash said. "When I ask them if they would like to talk about their service, they jump at the opportunity to discuss what they've done, where they've been, what the service meant to them."
And every veteran has a unique story.
Chester Dorr stormed the beaches of Normandy in France in World War II. Volunteer Rodney Dehmer, a Vietnam War veteran, honored the 99-year-old on the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Dorr's family was overcome with emotion during the ceremony. "This is one hell of a program!" said his son Jim, also a Vietnam veteran. "It just tops the cake."
Arizona is home to more than half a million veterans. Many were never recognized or thanked for their courage. That's particularly true for the men and women who fought in Vietnam.
Hospice of the Valley has achieved the highest status in the prestigious We Honor Veterans national program for providing superb care to all military veterans and meeting the specific needs of Vietnam-era and combat veterans.
"You're an example of what all hospice partners should strive to be," said Edo Banach, president of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. "Your efforts relay a message not only to the veterans under your care but to the family, caregivers and community that strive to provide the best to our nation's heroes."