Expanding the Use of Hospice Care for Veterans

Roughly 15 to 20 years ago, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) noted the number of World War II veterans heading into their sunset years. As these veterans approached the end of their lives, the VA acknowledged they did not have the capacity to care for all of these aging soldiers in a meaningful way. The sheer number was beyond their ability to handle.

Recognizing the problem, the VA began to establish hospice and palliative care in every VA medical center across the country. In time, they also began to partner with private community health providers to offer end-of-life services in local communities far from VA hospitals. This effort remains ongoing as additional collaborative health care partnerships continue to be established. The increased availability of hospice care should help close the low utilization gap that exists between veterans and the general population.

Coalitions for Veteran Care

Commonly referred to as Hospice-Veteran Partnerships (HVP), these veterans’ care coalitions are being set up between VA facilities, State Hospice Organizations, local community hospice providers, and other supporting groups. The HVP initiative is conducted by the VA Hospice and Palliative Care Program. Their objective is to extend the reach of the VA by establishing a network of interested health organizations to meet the end of life needs of our nation’s veterans.

Unique Veteran Needs

Because of the unique stresses of serving in the armed forces, many veterans need special care throughout the course of their hospice experience. For example, if a patient who is a combat veteran has dementia, it is possible for post-traumatic stress disorder to manifest during routine care. This sudden onset can happen even if it was not an issue previously. Other examples revolve around military culture and training that is so engrained in these service men and women, that they may refuse to disclose pain and symptoms in order to not appear weak.

Help to Get You Started

If you are searching for hospice or palliative care options for an aging veteran, call on us here at Windward Life Care. Our team of professionals can provide you with timely information and guidance to the resources that you need.