Caring for Veterans at the end of life

Categories: Education.

Veterans, particularly those who have served in combat, may struggle with a range of needs at life’s end. Some of the more difficult symptoms Veterans may experience include uncontrolled pain, terminal agitation, nightmares and out of control anger. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and secondary traumatic stress disorder (STSD) are also important factors that care providers should be familiar with and know how to address.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is offering a Webinar, “Veterans: Care at End of Life,” on March 9, 2017, 2:00pm – 3:00pm ET, looking at aspects of care provision for this population. Taught by Kathryn Van Pelt, RN, MSN, CHPN, an Affiliate with Opus Peace, the Webinar will offer participants a comprehensive understanding of the most therapeutic support options valuable in caring for Veterans at life’s end.

Shares Kathryn Van Pelt, “Eight years ago, after reading Deborah Grassman’s book, Peace At Last:  Stories of Hope and Healing for Veterans and Their Families, (2009), a poem by Deborah, in response to a diary entry of a Vietnam Veteran, resonated with me and has been a defining moment, guiding my career path since. Tommy Bills, a Vietnam Veteran, with PTSD, who found healing through painting and sculpture, concluded his diary entry with ‘Now, I’ve had the walk in the woods with the wounded warriors.'”
“Following is an excerpt of the poem written in response to Tommy’s diary entry. ‘My heart is willing to suffer their sufferings, I’m willing to confront the stoic wall they hide behind, I’m willing to learn how to walk in the woods with the wounded warrior.’ It is a privilege to bear witness to the stories of war at end of life, as Veterans are in need of forgiveness, and of forgiving, and in need of mourning ‘unmourned’ grief, but bearing witness to the stories of war does come with a cost,” Van Pelt added.

Learning objects for the Webinar:

  • Discuss evidence based practice of trauma sensitive yoga, meditation, and other complementary and alternative medicine in recovery from PTSD and terminal agitation.
  • Identify Veterans receiving hospice care who may be exhibiting delayed PTSD and members of IDT who may be exhibiting STSD.
  • Compare and contrast the related diseases, illnesses and health conditions of Veterans from different war eras.

CE/CME is available for this Webinar.

Registration is open for this offering.

We Honor Veterans
An additional resource for hospice and palliative care providers and community organizations serving Veterans is We Honor Veterans.  WHV, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, invites hospices, state hospice organizations, Hospice-Veteran Partnerships and VA facilities to join a pioneering program focused on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment. By recognizing the unique needs of America’s veterans and their families, community providers, in partnership with VA staff, will learn how to accompany and guide them through their life stories toward a more peaceful ending.

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