Program helps meet veterans’ needs

Veteran to Veteran is two-part program operated by Our Hospice of South Central Indiana in its 15-county area, including Johnson County.

One part is an often emotional recognition of an individual’s service involving the presentation of a service pin to a hospice patient. The pinning ceremony has a special meaning for the recipient. And the one doing the pinning is a fellow veteran. Last year, 175 hospice patients received the pin, either in their homes or at the Our Hospice inpatient facility in Columbus. Without fail, each of the presentations has been emotional.

The second part of the program pairs veterans on an ongoing basis with patients who have served.

This evening, at the annual Honoring Veterans banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn in Taylorsville, Our Hospice Director Laura Hurt, Shelli Burton, special projects coordinator, and Suzie Singer, director of planning and marketing, will explain the program. Their message should resonate with the group, a number of whom are part of the dwindling World War II generation.

The pinning ceremony is not taken lightly by those charged with delivering the medal to the veteran. Currently there are about a dozen veterans who give up their time to salute a fellow veteran. Since hospice serves a 15-county region, some ceremonies involve considerable travel. Our Hospice hopes to recruit more volunteers.

Burton captured the emotion of the ceremony this way: “There was one instance in which the ceremony took place in the inpatient facility. His whole family had gathered in his room, including a number of his children who had not been together for several years. He was alert throughout and could understand what was happening. He died shortly thereafter, but the family sent us a beautiful note, especially expressing a gratitude that they had all been able to be together that one last time.”

The hospice staff is hoping to build on the second aspect of the Veteran to Veteran program. Burton said the program currently has only a couple of volunteers who are veterans. The staff hopes to increase that number, as well, especially because of the special needs of patients who have served in the military.

Ironically, Burton said, there is a common theme that seems to run through the older veterans, especially the ones served by Our Hospice.

“We frequently hear from veterans that they were never thanked for their service, even those from World War II,” she said. “That’s surprising about the World War II vets (who are identified as the ‘Greatest Generation’), but you have to consider that when the war ended for most of them, they simply came home and immediately went back to work.”

That’s why events like the Honoring Veterans dinner are so important. Attendance is not and should not be limited to those who have served. It’s really for those who have been served by these individuals so that they can say thank-you to those who signed on the bottom line.

If you go

What: Honoring Veterans Dinner.

Where: Hilton Garden Inn, Taylorsville.

When: Today. Reception will begin at 5 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner at 6 p.m. and the program at approximately 6:30 p.m.

Program: A presentation about the Veteran to Veteran programs at Our Hospice of South Central Indiana and presentation of the annual Patriot Awards.

Price: Dinner tickets will be $30 per person.

Reservations: Places at the banquet may be reserved by sending a check in the required amount to: Honoring Veterans, P.O. Box 2171, Columbus, IN 47202-2171. Tickets will not be issued as guests need only to identify themselves at the registration table the night of the event.

Information: 812-372-1382

At issue

Veterans, especially older ones, have unique emotional needs.

Our point

A program of Our Hospice of South Central Indiana seeks to meet those emotional needs through its Veteran to Veteran program.