OUR VETERANS NEED YOU

Veterans – 2015
by – Sheri de Grom

A veteran, possibly in your community, needs your help.

Veteran Affairs coordinates volunteers in their No Veteran Dies Alone (NVDA) program.

HONORING OUR VETERANS - Getty Images

HONORING OUR VETERANS – Getty Images

Their mission is that no veteran will die alone.

We promise to take care of all veterans during life and in death. Many believe the ‘death’ portion of the promise refers to the burial benefits to which a veteran is entitled.

The NVDA volunteer program is an extension of the VA Hospice or Palliative Care Programs. For a veteran to qualify for the volunteer program he/she must participate in the VA Hospice or Palliative Care Program.

Many VA Hospitals lack sufficient bed space and comfort for this end-of-life population and the veterans are placed in community nursing homes where Hospice care is available. In many cases the care is available from their homes.

Often our veterans have out-lived their family and friends or the military lifestyle itself has wounded in ways that veterans find themselves estranged from their families.

Veterans represent 11% of the civilian adult population, but veterans make up 26% of the homeless population. It’s not surprising to learn a veteran has broken ties with family members long ago and the areas of the country where they used to live are as foreign as the battlefields where they once served.

Many veterans presenting to the VA for care are fearful of the agency that’s let them down so many times before.

Many veterans have gone without medical care for well over twenty years for any number of reasons. Often they haven’t had: transportation, lived too far away, couldn’t get an appointment and had no one to assist them in fighting the bureaucracy that is the VA

By the time a veteran actually makes it in the door of a VA Medical Center, often the only treatment remaining is to make him/her as comfortable as possible. Advanced disease processes have consumed their bodies.

Volunteers are needed to sit with veterans, read or talk to them, play music and sometimes offering a physical presence by holding the veteran’s hand.

The NVDA program is about good conversation, positive interaction, spiritual support, reminiscing, life review, therapeutic touch and an overall sense of connectedness and closure.

Volunteers are needed. When our soldiers come home, they shouldn’t have to die alone.

To participate as a volunteer in NVDA, visit http://www.volunteer.va.gov/ and fill out a volunteer application.

I thank you in advance for caring about our nation’s veterans.

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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66 Responses to OUR VETERANS NEED YOU

  1. Mustang.Koji says:

    Perhaps one can say care for our veterans have spiraled downwards through the years but I believe that the spiraling has worsened exponentially in recent years. One bit of evidence lies in the funerals for our vets – 21 gun salutes have all but disappeared, for example. Missing man formations are flown by citizen pilots… My neighbor, Old Man Jack who fought in the SWP during WWII… all he rated at his funeral was a electronic version of Taps… Veterans deserve the best; our country is obliged to do so.

    • I agree. Our veterans give 100% and then more yet so many haven’t a clue of what it means to be an American soldier. Yes, it’s harder and harder to find a full honor guard for our WWII service men and women and it’s inexcusable. When the flag is folded and given to the loved one it should be an individual that honestly knows what the individual in the casket gave up to serve his/her country.
      Our constitution is clear about who will defend our country and the same constitution instructs us to care for the injured and infirm. We are to bury the dead with dignity and respect.
      Thank you for stopping by to read with me and to leave a comment. I sincerely appreciate your taking the time out of your day to do so.

  2. Sheri ~Thank you for this! Re-tweeting now. ♥ I love your heart ♥ Paula

  3. Thanks, Sheri, for this important post. I’m going to repost it on Facebook and Twitter.

    • Hello John – Thanks so much for helping spread the word. Our Veterans are isolated in nursing homes here and there in communities [it’s actually how some nursing homes stay in business] but the care the Veterans receive can be less than adequate unless volunteers step in. I’ve learned this is one of the most important volunteer programs developed for our Veterans. It’s estimated that over 20,000 Veterans die alone each year, in a facility of some type, and that they are alone without visitors during the last 18 months of their lives.
      Is this something you would be comfortable passing along to your church members?

  4. Simona says:

    Happy New Week bye Simona 🙂

  5. willowdot21 says:

    Wonderful sentiments Sheri! xxx

  6. gpcox says:

    I am thrilled to see this post re-blogged over and over – people DO care!

  7. Reblogged this on Apple Pie and Napalm and commented:
    Sheri is not only amazing on a personal level, but also a tireless advocate for our military veterans. I hope you will read and reblog, too.

  8. Reblogged this on thinkingpinkx2 and commented:
    Help Our Heroes

  9. Elaine says:

    Reblogged this on Elaine's Random Thoughts and commented:
    A wonderful program I had not been familiar with. I’m praying about it to see if the Lord would have me take part in this if I am able. Our veterans hold a special place in my heart.

    • Elaine – You would be a wonderful Prayer Warrior for a Veteran that’s waiting for someone like yourself. Veterans who communicate on a daily basis with Our Lord Jesus Christ are hungry to have someone like yourself read from the Bible and/or Devotionals. I’m not suggesting you take on several Veterans but, if your health permits, my heart would sing with gladness if you are able to participate in this program.
      I’ll be interested in knowing if this program works for you. Please don’t feel bad if it doesn’t. Do you think anyone else in your church or circle of friends might be interested? Sheri

  10. Thank you Sheri. In my different interactions with or for veteran’s I have never heard of this.

    • I’ve never heard this program talked up or reported in the media. Neither have I seen anything in the numerous newsletters the VA puts out on a daily basis. The program has been in existence since 2012 and I’d not heard about it until about 6 months ago. It makes me wonder why the media hasn’t reported on something good happening within the VA, even if it’s wholly run by volunteers.
      Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your comments.

  11. Sheri … this is one of those times when words can’t say enough. Every single time I hear that song I cry during and after. I am of the Vietnam generation and can’t stop thinking of what those men and women still suffer. All veterans of any time need to know that someone cares.

    Thanks for this 🙂

    • Florence – Yes, we share Vietnam and how it gutted our generation. I’ve not seen a set of demographics but at the present time my guess is that more than 70% of the Hospice patients are of the Vietnam war. It’s a crime that once again we move them away from a military environment such as the one prevalent at the VA. Instead, the Veterans are shuffled off to a community nursing home where they have no one to talk with and even if someone was available, no one understands what they are talking about.
      I’ve observed some of the care provided by the nursing homes and it is less than desirable – and that makes it even more objectionable.

  12. ksbeth says:

    what a poignant reminder, sheri.

  13. I have two children on active duty, will always take care of them. But when I’m gone, if the world tilts upside down, I hope there are people like you making sure they have care. Thanks.

    • Jacqui – I can advocate but, the same as the Veteran Suicide Prevention Act that just passed Congress, it will never be implemented. The politicians are getting pats on the back for doing good but what they didn’t tell the public is that with the sequester still in place, the program will never be funded and will die.
      The good thing about the NSDA program is that it’s run by volunteers and is not dependent on government funding. It’s been my experience that government programs must be set aside and citizens pick up the slack. If we don’t and all benefits go unfunded, why would anyone want to help defend our nation?

  14. I am appalled long-living and returning veterans have the difficult task of not only being accepted back into society but of good health care. Didn’t they just lay their lives on the line? I agree. We cannot allow this to continue.
    Educational and thought provoking post as usual, Sheri. ❤

  15. This is a much needed article. Veterans are so overlooked and many people still snub the veteran. Only the military person knows the horrors of war and what it is like to return home and then be rejected by family because he/she can not readjust to live in the civilian population.

    I hope your article here will spread the word.

    • Yvonne – The veterans located in many nursing home hospice settings are still being set aside from the general population. Now the veteran knows the horrors of war and the horrors of dying alone with no one who seems to care.
      This is a valuable volunteer program. For once I don’t have to worry now my charitable contributions are being spent. This program isn’t about money. It’s a giving of compassion and time.

  16. kanzensakura says:

    Reblogged this on kanzen sakura and commented:
    Have you thanked a Veteran today? No? Well, here is a way we can give back something to those who gave their all for us. And also, check out more of Sheri’s extremely informative and wise website as well.

    • Kanzen – Thank you so much for reblogging my post. In as little as 30 minutes we can brighten the day and make all the difference in the life of another person. Our Veterans in community nursing homes need us. The VA doesn’t have enough beds for their own Hospice programs and the additional patients are placed in the community. Unfortunately, these men and women are isolated from all they’ve known their entire adult lives. Often it’s a matter of the volunteer sitting and listening as they talk of their ‘war stories.’ Other times they want a letter written to a long lost love [how’s that for romantic], and then other times there are those who simply appreciate your being present and sitting at their side.
      We have many volunteer programs for Veterans but I’m sold on this one. It is solid from the ground up. Our money is not being diverted anywhere else and the smiles volunteers bring is genuine and loving beyond belief.
      Bless you for the reblog and I do hope you are feeling much better. I want to pay a visit to your house soon to read your beautiful verses. Sheri
      P.S. Now that my favorite ladies have me cooking, I check with dietary and to find out restrictions, etc. and then try to have something the Veteran likes every week or so. Thus far, Chocolate Chip Cookies with homemade peach ide cream is winning hands down!
      I do hope you are feeling better my dear friend. Sheri

  17. kanzensakura says:

    This is an excellent and moving post. I am definitely reblogging. Thank you for all of this information and a way we can give back to those who gave their all for us

    • Kanzen – This is a wonderful way all of as can give back. We don’t have to fight our way through a VA hospital and miles in parking lots to make it happen. It’s as simple as parking your vehicle in front of a community nursing home once someone is clear to interact with the Veterans. They rarely ask for anything of their own and no one asks for money or anything like that. If the Veteran enjoys reading, I try to find out their favorite authors and I can always pick up books from the library or even 2nd hand book stores. If you know older girl scout, boy scout groups, older teen groups in churches, etc. – these young people make tremendous ambassadors into the world of palliative care for our men and women who made significant contributions in keeping our country safe. I so appreciate your interest in this. Sheri

  18. What a wonderful post and I wish more people knew about this volunteer opportunity.
    Thank you, Sheri.

    • Patti – Hello my dear friend and how are you? I’ve thought of you all week and wondered how things were going there. Many thoughts and prayers have been coming your way from both Tom and myself.
      The more people who know about this program, the more veterans we’ll have that live out their remaining years in peace and comfort. I saw a friend yesterday preparing her alpaca for a visit. The alpaca is about six months old and the sweetest thing you ever did see. They are so quiet and loving and make no mess or noise. She was taking one to a veteran that’s a real animal lover and I immediately thought of you.
      Do you think anyone would notice if I put a couple of them in my back yard?
      Let me know how things are going there, okay? My heart and soul are with you during the tough times and trials you are going through. Know I’m available for you. Sheri

  19. gpcox says:

    I can not think of a better post than this for anyone to publish!! This is a great message, Sheri.

    • G.P. – Thanks for stopping by and commenting. This is a volunteer opportunity anyone can participate in [as long as they have a compassionate personality]. The veterans placed out in the community nursing homes are in terrible emotional situations as they rarely have anyone at all to talk with. Most of the homes are filled with women [and they don’t want to talk about any war]. The veterans have a need to tell their war stories and often all you need to be is a listening heart. These are the gentle giants who went to war and fought for our freedom and now are in a nursing home [many in rural areas] would have absolutely no one to talk with. The nursing homes see them as a ticket to keeping the doors open.
      And, I’m encouraging everyone to take their laptops (it’s too difficult for many to view on iPads – your wonderful series) and oh what conversation starters you contribute. Thank you for continuing to do due diligence with your blog. I had no idea it’s many services until once we started. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sheri

  20. cindy knoke says:

    Oh Sheri, you are quite remarkable. Anyone who has contact with is simply lucky. Thank you for what you do. You always blow me away. This post surely did.

    • Now, Cindy, let’s not get carried away. I appreciate your kindness and am doing what I love. There’s a place in my heart for all veterans, but those in Hospice in community nursing homes are out of their element. They so need someone who understands their language when they tell their ‘war stories’ and of the places they’ve been.
      As always, I appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedule to read with me and leave a comment. – – Sheri

  21. Gallivanta says:

    This is such a worthy cause. I do hope more people will volunteer. Of veterans; I am saddened that yet another of the oldest has gone. http://www.ksdk.com/story/life/2015/02/09/oldest-survivor-pearl-harbors-uss-arizona-dies/23153897/

    • Gallivanta – I always appreciate your reading with me and taking the time to comment. Thanks also for the article about the oldest survivor of Pearl Harbor. I twitted the story. It deserves extra exposure. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live through something like Pearl Harbor.
      The common denominator the Veterans in the Hospice program seem to have, where volunteers are needed, is they are in community nursing homes. If they were patients at a VA hospital they would have someone to tell their war stories and others who would understand why no one visits them.

  22. Thank you, Sheri. I sent this out to my social networks.

  23. Reblogged this on So, I Read This Book Today and commented:
    Veterans do so very much, and receive so very little from us.
    This is so little to ask, and means so very much.

  24. mihrank says:

    wow – I feel sad and sorrow – Veterans deserve more and respect. May God Bless them!

  25. Reblogged this on Women Who Think Too Much by Jeanne Marie and commented:
    Veterans deserve more…

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