One out of every four Americans who pass away each day are veterans. Heartland Hospice wants to ensure that those veterans are honored and find peace at the end of life. The Heartland team requested advice from veterans who just returned from a historic Honor Flight to Vietnam.
"The patients that we work with who are veterans and have served have not talked about their experiences for 40 or 50 years, so our hope is to gain some advice, suggestions on having those conversations with our patients so they can open up for healing," said Tracy Rosinski, Heartland Hospice Regional Veteran Liaison.
Three Vietnam veterans, brothers Dale and Tom Van Lanen and Mike Sheedy, who had just spent two weeks on an Old Glory Honor Flight to Vietnam were invited to share their experiences and suggestions. "When you come back from that, it's different. You're kind of a changed guy," said Dale. "This whole thing has opened me up more so because I got my closure when I went back to Vietnam."
The recent closure and healing allows the veterans to offer simple, yet heartfelt advice. "Just sit down and have the patience to tell them that you really want to listen to what they have to say and really show them that you're interested in listening to what they have to tell you, their experiences, and that would be great for that veteran," advised Tom, Dale's older brother.
Throughout their time with the veterans, many of the hospice team members were moved to tears. Being able to listen and talk with Dale, Tom and Mike helped the hospice team feel prepared to carry their suggestions and inspiration with them while they are with patients. "Opportunity we have at the end of life is a perfect opportunity to allow for that question and explanation and that storytelling, that leaving a legacy, because as another gentleman said, this is their last time to tell their story," said Tracy.
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