Hospice Program Celebrates Veterans With Knights, Seniors And Elementary Students

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Since Hospice of the Chesapeake’s We Honor Veterans committee was formed in 2010, members have considered it their duty to help the community understand how important it is to thank veterans for their service while they are living. With veterans comprising more than 25% of Hospice’s patient base, the days leading up to and around Veterans Day had the committee stepping up to the task double-time.

This year, the Pasadena-based nonprofit began the celebration on November 9 by helping the St. John Neumann Knights of Columbus Assembly 1763 in Bowie celebrate its annual patriotic breakfast. Later that morning, another contingency of veteran and military volunteers performed a group honor salute at Somerford Place in Annapolis. Two more group honor salutes were performed over the weekend – one on November 10 at Arbor Terrace Waugh Chapel in Gambrills and then at a ceremony held at Brightview Senior Living in Annapolis on November 11. The celebrating wrapped up with a rousing welcome from the students at Jones Elementary School in Severna Park on November 12, who proudly presented two colorful stacks of thank-you notes created by fourth- and fifth-grade classes.

The five events are public representations of how Hospice of the Chesapeake partners with community groups and individuals to meet the unique needs of veterans experiencing advanced illness and at the end of life. The Bowie Knights delight in having members of the U. S. Naval Academy Midshipmen Action Group attend its veterans events to perform the honor salute, which is coordinated by the nonprofit’s We Honor Veterans committee. The senior living centers are care partners, with a number of residents who are patients of the nonprofit. Public and private schools throughout Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties participate in the program’s Operation Gratitude and have over the last nine years created thousands of thank-you cards that are cherished by the veterans who receive them at honor salutes.

It is all part of the national We Honor Veterans program, a partnership with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The program is focused on providing the best care for veterans and their families through respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment.

Director of Advancement and Volunteer Services Chris Wilson, whose department oversees the program, said she continues to be amazed by the community’s fervent response to the purpose of the program.

“This Veterans Day weekend of events is an incredible demonstration of how volunteers, schools, active-duty and retired military, businesses and more share our commitment to veterans,” she said. “Our organization only considers itself the caretaker of the program. Truthfully, this is a community program conducted by the most generous individuals we’ve known.”

For details on the program, visit www.hospicechesapeake.org/hospice-palliative-care/care-for-veterans. To volunteer, call 410-987-2003 or email joinus@hospicechesapeake.org.

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