"Most honor ceremony candidates and veterans have never been recognized for their service, which is why we're here," says Captain Wil, a volunteer with LightBridge Hospice's We Honor Veterans program. He and other military volunteers conduct Honor Ceremonies designed to formally recognize military veterans receiving hospice care for their outstanding service to our country.
Honor Ceremonies and the We Honor Veterans program are part of LightBridge's commitment to providing care uniquely planned to address the challenges associated with each veteran's specific service experience while reflecting gratitude and appreciation for their service. LightBridge was the first hospice in Southern California to earn the Level IV certification with the We Honor Veterans Partnership.
"We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 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." (We Honor Veterans – About website)
At a typical LightBridge Honor Ceremony, Captain Wil finds it essential to set time aside to talk with the veteran and his family to get to know him and learn about his personal military service. "I walk in, in my dress uniform, and I'll try to spend as much time as I can talking to the patient and his loved ones, so when I do the Honor Ceremony, I can talk about the service he did," explains Wil. During the ceremony, the patient is officially recognized for their military service. They are then presented with a We Honor Veterans pin, a certificate of appreciation, a special message from LightBridge expressing our heartfelt gratitude for this veteran's service, and often a remembrance pillow or blanket made by volunteers. "It's pretty emotional," he describes, "because you never know what condition the Veteran will be in, but it's usually pretty touching to them when I salute them and thank them for their service."
Most often, LightBridge honor ceremonies are created for individual veterans and the guests of their choice. Captain Wil has provided ceremonies ranging in size from veterans who have had only their caregiver present to others, including 20 or more family members and friends for the ceremony. Regardless of the crowd, "When I leave, they, the family members who are extremely proud of their loved one's service, are very thankful their veteran was honored and remembered," Wil states. "Many family members have never seen their veteran recognized or awarded for their years of service. They're very appreciative and proud of their veteran and are happy to see them honored before they pass away." After the ceremony, Captain Wil often lingers to share stories with the honored veteran and their family over a celebratory cake (provided by The LightBridge Hospice Community Foundation). "It's always a real pleasure to be with service members and their families, states Wil; I always look forward to the ceremonies because they are so rewarding and emotional. I am honored to be a part of them."
LightBridge is committed to providing our servicemen and women with the best care possible. The honor ceremonies are just a part of the specialized veterans care we provide. Through specialized staff training, we strive to meet the unique needs of our military veterans. An assessment of the veteran's military service helps our team better understand and prepare for potential issues related to their personal experience. Our team can assist with military-specific information and help with VA benefits and a vast array of special veteran's programs and services, including counseling to deal with previously suppressed memories or issues.
LightBridge Hospice is honored to offer specialized care for our veterans, including formal recognition with Honor Ceremonies through the We Honor Veterans program. We are committed to honor their legacy and gratefully remember their service while providing the highest standard of excellence in hospice care.