Saluting the heroism of men and women in military service is proudly on display during some of our nation's most patriotic holidays — Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day, to name a few.
During the week of Veterans Day, Sharp HospiceCare is celebrating patients who have served in the U.S. military, by holding 55 flag ceremonies. The celebrations are part of the We Honor Veterans program developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"The individuals who have selflessly dedicated their lives to protecting our country in peace and wartime deserve to be recognized," says Suzi K. Johnson, vice president of Sharp HospiceCare. "The celebrations we are having for our patients are a way for us to say 'thank you' for all they have done for their country."
The ceremonies take place in patients' homes, Sharp HospiceCare residences and other venues throughout San Diego County. During the ceremony, a patient is presented with a U.S. flag that was flown on the USS Midway aircraft carrier. The flags are presented to the veterans by fellow veterans.
"I just want to thank Sharp HospiceCare for their hard work and all that they've done to care for my father," says Ernie Becerra, son of 94-year-old decorated World War II veteran Ernest Becerra, who is one of the patients being honored. "From the nurses who help us navigate the health care maze, to the volunteers who take care of my dad — providing music, massages and other therapies — everyone has been great."
The We Honor Veterans program is focused on providing hospice care staff and volunteers with training, education and resources for improving care for veterans, as well as recognizing the important contributions they have made through their military service.
More than 2,700 hospices nationwide participate in the We Honor Veterans program. Participating hospices follow a tiered plan geared toward educating staff on recognizing the unique needs of caring for veterans as it relates to their military service, combat experience or other traumatic events. Other objectives include supporting strategic community partnerships and increasing veterans' access to hospice and palliative care.
Along with the veteran-centric health care education that staff receives, the program also emphasizes respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment as part of delivering quality care.
"Sharp HospiceCare is happy to take part in the We Honor Veterans program," says Johnson. "Recognizing our patients through these special flag ceremonies, as well as providing compassionate care tailored toward their needs, are essential in making our patients feel comfortable and appreciated."