Saturday, November 28 , 2015, 9:10 pm | Fair 52º

Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care Launches Veteran-to-Veteran Volunteer Program

Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care patient Paul Hackett, center, with Sarah House Director Stephen Jones, left, and VNHC veteran volunteer Aaron Thompson.
Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care patient Paul Hackett, center, with Sarah House Director Stephen Jones, left, and VNHC veteran volunteer Aaron Thompson.  (Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care photo)

By Jennifer Guess for Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care |

One out of every four dying Americans is a veteran of war. As Veterans Day draws near, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care is pleased to announce an important new hospice care program for veterans.

VNHC has joined We Honor Veterans, a program of National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs that is designed to empower hospice professionals to meet the unique needs of dying veterans. With guidance and training through We Honor Veterans, VNHC has begun a Veteran-to-Veteran Volunteer program through which it matches veteran hospice volunteers with patients who are also veterans and seeking hospice care.

“Our hospice professionals are dedicated to learn how to better serve the challenges veterans may be facing from illness, isolation or traumatic life experience,” said Lynda Tanner, president and CEO of Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care. “Matching veteran volunteers with our veteran patients is an important part of this program and helps us understand more about how to meet the needs of veterans.”

VNHC understands that veterans have unique clinical, psychological and spiritual needs as they age. They have endured exceptional experiences that most people do not have in their lifetimes, and need particular support during one of the most challenging times of their lives — the ends of their lives. Health-care experts agree that veterans require care that is highly customized, relevant and culturally sensitive. Through We Honor Veterans, VNHC is now able to offer a variety of programs that are widely recognized for their commitment to honor veterans’ preferences and provide them with the respect, comfort and compassion they require.

Leading the outreach efforts to recruit veteran volunteers is Arlene Stepputat, manager of Volunteer Services at VNHC, who is eager to expand the program.

“What is so unique about this veteran-to-veteran matching program is that veteran volunteers have the ability to relate and connect with patients, and create an environment where life review and healing occurs,” Stepputat said.

Recently, one of VNHC’s first veteran volunteers, Aaron Thompson, had the great privilege to be paired with a veteran hospice patient, Paul Hackett. This veteran-to-veteran match led to them learn that while Hackett served in the Navy and Thompson was in the Air Force, they both shared military experience, ultimately paving the way to a great friendship.

Hackett’s final dream was to go deep-sea fishing out on the open ocean. His dream was granted, thanks to one of VNHC’s local partner agencies, the Dream Foundation. Hackett chose Thompson, in addition to Director Stephen Jones from Sarah House, where he lived, to accompany him on his fishing trip.

VNHC is proud to offer the Veteran-to-Veteran program, and is actively looking for veteran volunteers. To find out more about how you can volunteer at Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care, please contact Arlene Stepputat at 805.690.6274 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care is the leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive in-home health care. Its mission is to provide high quality, comprehensive home health, hospice and related services necessary to promote the health and well-being of all community residents, including those unable to pay. It serves the greater Santa Barbara area, and Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys. Established in 1908, Visiting Nurse is one Santa Barbara’s oldest nonprofit organizations. For more information, click here or call 805.965.5555.

— Jennifer Guess is a publicist representing Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care.

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