Americans across the country celebrate Veterans Day on November 11, a special day to salute the men and women who have bravely served our country in the military.
These fellow Americans have made profound sacrifices in defense of freedom and they deserve our heartfelt thanks and appreciation. Honoring our nation's Veterans includes supporting them throughout their entire lives, especially at the end.
As our nation marks Veterans Day 2010, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization deepens its commitment to increase Veterans' access to the compassionate, high quality care available from the nation's hospice and palliative care providers.
NHPCO has been a long-time supporter of the valuable work being done by the Department of Veterans Affairs to bring palliative care services to VA Medical Centers and the communities they serve.
This past month, NHPCO in collaboration with the VA, took a great step forward to help healthcare providers better serve Veterans at life's end by launching the website www.WeHonorVeterans.org, the centerpiece of the new We Honor Veterans campaign. This campaign will help those who provide care at the end of life, better understand the unique needs of our nation's Veterans.
But there is something that every American can do to honor and serve our Veterans - and that is to say, "thank you." Not just on November 11 but all year long.
Ask your friends, neighbors, coworkers and others in your community whether they have served in the military (you may be surprised how many have) - and thank those who have served for their sacrifice.
A generation of World War II and Korean War Veterans are facing end-of-life care decisions now, and they are quickly being followed by younger Vietnam War Veterans, many of whom are confronting serious illnesses at an even earlier age.
It surprises many Americans to learn that every day, 1,800 Veterans die. That's more than 680,000 Veterans every year - or 25 percent of all the people who die in this country annually.
The liberty that we, as US citizens, enjoy comes at a price paid by these valiant men and women. Let each of us make sure we do our part to recognize and support them throughout their lives.
If you know a Veteran who is in need of the special care hospice and palliative care brings to people facing serious and life-limiting illness, please reach out and help them learn more about care options. Information is available from NHPCO's Caring Connections at www.caringinfo.org or by calling the HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898.
To all our nation's Veterans, thank you.
J. Donald Schumacher, PsyD
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization