Submitted by Sharon Davidson,
Senior Director Volunteer & Community Services
Big Bend Hospice is proud to announce it has been recertified as a Level 5 Partner with We Honor Veterans (WHV), a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). Level 5 is the highest level WHV partners can attain and includes several newly required activities and yearly re-certification.
Since 2013, Big Bend Hospice has been a partner in the WHV program, which allowed many Veterans to receive the respect and honor they deserve. Derrick Sykes, the Veterans Liaison for Big Bend Hospice, explains that the BBH Valor Program allows Veterans to connect with fellow Veterans during their end-of-life days through Vet-to-Vet visits and Valor Ceremonies.
Recently a Gadsden County Veteran felt the nation turned its back on him when he returned from serving in Vietnam. This Veteran explained that the Valor Ceremony provided by BBH was, to him, “the welcome home and job-well-done” parade that he never received. His children were overjoyed because they felt that their father had finally received the honor and respect that he “so richly deserved’ for his military service and sacrifice on behalf of this great nation.
Sykes says this about his position, “Because our Veterans sacrificed so much supporting our country and our freedoms, they deserve honor and recognition. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve other Veterans as the BBH Veterans Liaison.” He coordinates Volunteers for these Valor Ceremonies that include patriotic music and messaging. Though these are just small tokens of appreciation, the certificates, challenge coins, and tabletop flags are always well received by both the patient and the family.
NHPCO and the Department of Veterans Affairs launched the We Honor Veterans program in 2010 to address the growing need for Veteran-centric care. As Veterans age and need access to palliative and hospice care, programs such as this are growing in demand across the country.
Achievement of the Level 5 status demonstrates a deep commitment to understanding and addressing the unique needs of Veterans, especially those facing life-limiting illnesses. Aside from existing partner requirements, Level 5 partners have an increased focus on staff education and caring for Vietnam-era and combat Veterans. Additionally, Level 5 partners take on the role of regional mentors to other WHV partners who continue to work towards enhancing their programs.
Big Bend Hospice has been serving this community since 1983 inspiring HOPE by positively impacting the way our communities; Leon, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla counties; experience a serious illness or grief – one family at a time. To learn more about our services, please call 850-878-5310 or visit www.bigbendhospice.org.