Hospice pinning ceremonies honor veterans

Posted by Jim Richardson, Military Veteran Volunteer

Hospice pinning ceremonies honor veterans
Veteran pinning ceremonies are one of several services offered by JourneyCare’s We Honor Veterans program.

I began my odyssey with JourneyCare some eight months ago, after my fifth experience with hospice for family members. Having recently retired and looking to give back – but uncertain if volunteering at hospice was right for me – I discovered the We Honor Veterans program and found a perfect fit. 

Our family's JourneyCare experience was exceptional. We discovered services beyond skilled nursing care, such as art, music, massage and Reiki therapies, pet care, patient visitation and, of course, We Honor Veterans. Many of these integrated services are provided by a host of passionate volunteers.

The We Honor Veterans program recognizes current and former military members for their service and assists them in accessing benefits they are entitled to receive. JourneyCare is one of the only nonprofit hospices in the Chicago area that is recognized by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) as a partner in the We Honor Veterans program. JourneyCare also sponsors a Veteran Volunteers Advisory Council that engages veteran-centric event planning, training, and educational opportunities.

One aspect of We Honor Veterans is the quiet, respectful and powerful pinning ceremony that recognizes veterans for their service. The ceremony entails a visit from a veteran volunteer who may play the National Anthem, the patient’s military service theme and other patriotic music. The volunteer may read a scripted presentation or conduct a more informal recognition ceremony. The patient and family are presented with a formal Certificate of Honor and special pin recognizing their service. The patient and family are encouraged to share both life and military service stories as a part of the celebration of the veteran’s life and service. The ceremonies are deeply meaningful to the patients and their families.

Sometimes the patients are awake and engaged, others, not so much. Recently I was honoring a veteran who, days before, was still able to talk and interact with people. When I arrived, he was awake but not able to talk or move much at all. The family and I had a wonderful conversation with and about the patient even though he couldn’t engage with us. We knew he was aware but having had a stroke provided significant limitations. Then the ceremony began… at the playing of the National Anthem, the veteran moved his hand to his heart. The family was amazed, as he had not been unable to accomplish something like that recently. At the playing of his service theme, he began to mouth the words and all were absolutely amazed. He knew. He appreciated the ceremony, and so did his family.

As each patient and family is different, so is every ceremony unique. Each has a common thread: recognition for the sacrifice of service to our great nation. I find service in We Honor Veterans exceptionally gratifying when I see the expression of deep appreciation by veterans and their families in response to a simple visit and recognition ceremony.

If you are a veteran, I highly encourage you to join us. We are always looking for a few good men and women so that we may continue to provide and expand our ability to serve others. Apply to be a JourneyCare Military Veteran Volunteer and visit our We Honor Veterans page to discover more about these great works! 

 Semper Fi - Jim

Comments (2)

  • Harry Connell

    29 June 2018 at 17:05 | #

    As a former member of the group, your message and description captured the essence of the "We Honor Veterans" celebration.


  • Mary Helen Ekstam

    02 July 2018 at 18:36 | #

    This was beautifully written and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this.


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