Hospices Honor Veterans Across the Country

By Sydney Shepherd

“It’s because of them I enjoy many freedoms. I enjoy them because of their sacrifice,” said Vietnam War Veteran, David Powell about the dying veterans he visits through NHPCO’s We Honor Veterans Program.   Powell  shows up in his olive drab military flight suit and presents these veterans with a personalized, name-engraved plaque acknowledging their service, a hat pin that shows their military branch (something the military veterans love most), and also presents the veterans’ spouses with a pin honoring them for the care that they have provided for the veteran through the years.  Lastly, he gathers as many veterans as he can at the facility and together they give the dying veteran a final salute.

There are many stories like David Powell’s that demonstrate the effort and support We Honor Veterans hospice and community partners offer when visiting veterans who are near the end of their lives.  With Veterans Day approaching this Saturday, these stories are being shared worldwide. Here are a few:


Ontario-Yates Hospice volunteers from New York honored Navy Commander Dale F. Mueller, 94, of Penn Yan, New York a veteran of two wars.  The ceremony included a flag lap throw, presentation of a U.S. flag pin and framed certificate acknowledging and thanking him for his service, a reading of “The Sailor’s Creed,” and concluded with a formal salute in the presence of his children. Mary Zelazny, one of Mueller’s daughters, mentioned that he loved the ceremony.  “He was always very proud of his military service,” she said.

Oswego County Hospice expanded its We Honor Veterans Program by recognizing the hospice veteran and spouse with a recognition and pinning ceremony.  Pictured is World War II Coast Guard veteran, Jean Barry honored by Hospice volunteers Dawn and Mike Leduc. “Not only is Hospice honoring its veterans, it is an honor to be a veteran honoring veterans. These recognition ceremonies are allowing me to give back to my fellow veterans, while at the same time gaining an amazing gift from each of them,” said Mike, a Navy veteran.


Heartlite Hospice held a “We Honor Veterans Lunch” to celebrate the brave veterans who fought and served our country. This is the fifth year of the event, which typically occurs the week before or after Veterans Day. The lunch included a video presentation, a POW/MIA ceremony, performance of taps, and gifts for every attendee with personal thank you notes from students at a local high school.

Season Hospice & Palliative Care has decided to honor veterans through five unique “We Honor Veterans” ceremonies in their Metro Denver facilities through November 13. “We have veteran volunteers who will be conducting the ceremony, recognizing each member by their branch of service, pinning a special pin and presenting them with a certificate of appreciation,” said April Dovorany, Manager of Public Relations with Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care. “We’ll also have patriotic music, encouraging words from local lawmakers and our staff, and a time to reflect for our patients and their families.”


Ron Nitchie, a U.S. Air Force veteran and spiritual care advisor for Arbor Hospice and Hospice of Michigan, pins an American flag on Nicholas Smith, a 100 year old who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Nitchie’s personal military experience and clinical pastoral education training help him provide special assistance and spiritual guidance for veteran patients, like Lewis, at the end-of-life.





Meeting the Needs of our Nation’s Heroes at the End of Life

Over 4,500 hospice organizations and community partners provide Veteran-centric care to our nation’s heroes.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the We Honor Veterans program join the nation in honoring and celebrating our Veterans this Veterans Day. Veterans with serious illness have unique needs at the end of the life. There are over 4,500 We Honor Veterans partner programs across the nation, committed to providing Veterans with the Veteran- centric care and resources they deserve. We Honor Veterans partners address both physical and emotional needs, including the psychological toll of war and how it impacts the end-of-life journey.

“We honor  and thank America’s Veterans and the over 4,500 We Honor Veterans partners that have made a commitment to provide quality Veteran-centric care to our nation’s heroes living with  serious illness,” says NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. “Now entering its eighth year, We Honor Veterans continues to grow amongst hospice programs, community-based healthcare partners, and non-hospice community partners.”

NHPCO, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, created the We Honor Veterans program to empower hospice and other non-hospice community partners across America to meet the unique needs of seriously ill Veterans and their families.  Partners engage in activities including utilizing a military history checklist at admission, pinning ceremonies and certificate presentations, as well as outreach to other community organizations.   We Honor Veterans partners in partnership with VA staff, learn how to accompany and guide Veterans through their end-of-life journey toward a more peaceful ending.

In 2017, over 27,000 hospice staff (some duplicate) participated in We Honor Veterans training programs across the country. Hospices reported that they reached over 26,000 participants in community outreach at venues which include but are not limited to churches, homeless shelters, and assisted living facilities.

There are four levels of distinction that partner programs can earn based on their involvement with Veteran education and interaction with the Veterans and family members they are caring for. The goal of these levels is to ensure the very best care is being provided to those who have served our nation.

As we celebrate our nation’s heroes this Veterans Day – and every day of the year – we must not forget that it is never too late to give them a hero’s welcome home..

Learn more at www.WeHonorVeterans.org.

It’s National Hospice & Palliative Care Month!

I hope you have recovered from any Halloween frights! Now, as we enter National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, here is the latest Hospice and Palliative Care News Update:

National Hospice and Palliative Care Month:

  1. NHPCO Issues Proclamation for National Hospice and Palliative Care Month
  2. Join us for Social Media Day, Friday November 3!
  3. Access resources for National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

A great way to kick off National Hospice & Palliative Care Month is to complete our Action Alerts, and share them with your friends and coworkers!

News from the Hill

  1. Rural Access Update! We Have New Cosponsors!
  2. Please help us defend the non-partisan nature of non-profits. Learn more here. 

Regulatory Update

  1. NHPCO Participates in HHS Cut the Red Tape Summit

Good Reads

  1. NHPCO Releases New Facts & Figures: Hospice Care in America Report
  2. How Hospices Respond to Tragedy
  3. Tips for Choosing a Quality Hospice
  4. NHPCO Responds to No One is Coming Article

Multimedia Resources

  1. Newest Moments of Life Video shows benefits of music therapy
  2. Latest NHPCO Podcast: Building a Compliance Dashboard

Whats On the Horizon

  1. Veterans Day is November 11. Learn about the We Honor Veterans program, and invite your Members of Congress to attend your WHV Ceremonies! Need help? Email us and we can assist with making the invitation!

Additionally, please help us welcome Sydney Shepherd, our new Advocacy & Policy Coordinator, to the HAN Team!

Finally, a BIG THANK YOU to the many advocates who have reached out and contacted their Members of Congress this month! Whether it was an invitation to a We Honor Veterans Ceremony, requesting their support for a bill, or attempting to schedule an in-district meeting, we know so many of you are working hard to advocate for your patients and families! I know it can be very frustrating, and congressional schedules are notoriously hard to navigate, but I am so proud that so many of you stepped up this month! Fingers crossed that we see some great results!

As always, please stay in touch, and let us know if we can be helpful!

Introduction: Sydney Shepherd, our new Policy & Advocacy Coordinator

Hello everyone!  My name is Sydney Shepherd and I am excited to be the new Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for the Hospice Action Network.  Just this year, I had firsthand experience with the meaningful impact hospice and palliative care can have on patients and their family members and friends, which piqued my interest in NHPCO.  When my aunt was near the end of her life, my uncle expressed how grateful he was to have an in-house nurse who was so attentive and who made my aunt’s transition that much smoother.  This industry means a lot to so many, and joining this team is very significant to me.

Now, for a little bit more about Sydney.  I graduated from the University of Delaware in 2015 with a BA in Criminal Justice.  There, I was a track athlete, a member of the campus’s Cultural Programming Advisory Board, and actively involved in my sorority.  I love Octavia Butler novels, puppies, a strong cup of coffee and Kit Kat bars (shout out to NHPCO for giving me a whole bucket of them.  I don’t know what to do with myself!!).  I come to NHPCO with a little over 3 years of nonprofit experience.  Recently, I worked with NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, assisting with their effort to bring high quality broadband access to rural telecommunications providers.  Prior to, I worked for America’s Public Television Stations and had an internship at Community Advocates for Family and Youth, where I contributed to advocacy efforts on behalf of victims of crime.  Through my experiences, I’ve learned that a successful nonprofit employee truly cares about the members’ needs and is willing to go the extra mile to accomplish goals.  Well I’m used to running, so I’m definitely up for the challenge!

I hope to engage with some of you soon, and look forward to the work I can do to aid in HAN’s advocacy efforts.


Sydney Shepherd

NHPCO Proclamation for National Hospice & Palliative Care Month

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization issues this proclamation in recognition of the important outreach and awareness ongoing throughout November 2017.


WHEREAS, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of St. Christopher’s Hospice in London, widely recognized as the first modern day hospice organization, and the 35th anniversary of the Medicare hospice benefit in the United Sates;

WHEREAS, more than 1.5 million Americans living with life-limiting illness, and their families, receive care annually from the nation’s hospice programs in communities throughout the United States;

WHEREAS, greater awareness to increase more timely access to hospice care is needed given that nearly 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries received care for seven days or less*, considered too short a time to fully benefit from the range of services that hospice offers;

WHEREAS,  hospice and palliative care offer those they serve the high-quality of care delivered by an interdisciplinary team of skilled professionals and trained volunteers that includes physicians, nurses, social workers, therapists, counselors, health aides, spiritual care providers and more;

WHEREAS, the hospice and palliative care philosophy places the needs of the individual at the center of care allowing patients and family caregivers to focus on quality of life, surrounded and supported by family and loved ones, despite serious and life-limiting illness;

WHEREAS, each year, hospice saves Medicare more than $2 billion by providing solutions for physicians, care to patients and comfort to families;

WHEREAS, a growing body of peer-reviewed research indicates that timely access to hospice and palliative care can decrease hospitalizations and Emergency Room visits and increase quality of life for patients and family caregivers;

WHEREAS, hospice and palliative care organizations are advocates and educators about advance care planning that help individuals make decisions about the healthcare they would want to receive should they have a serious or life-limiting illness or if they were unable to speak for themselves;

WHEREAS, hospice and palliative care providers encourage all people to learn more about options of care and to share their wishes with family, loved ones, and their healthcare professionals;

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Board of Directors of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, do hereby proclaim November 2017 as National Hospice and  Palliative Care Month and encourage the public to increase their understanding and awareness of care at the end of life and to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs.


NHPCO offers resources to help promote National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.

* NHPCO’s report, Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America, 2016 edition.