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Near the End of Life, a Bedside Salute Means So Much to Veterans
By Evalisa McClure


As the family of patient José Pacheco gathered at his home for a veteran’s recognition ceremony, the elderly veteran began talking about his service during World War II.

Some of Mr. Pacheco's family members had never heard his stories, including a grandson who had asked to be excused from school that day to be at his grandfather’s side.

“Everybody knows how few and far between our WWII veterans are,” VITAS nurse Nancy explains. "It’s almost like you’re witnessing something indescribable. You know each veteran’s time will be short, yet here we are in the presence of an American hero. It makes everyone really emotional.”

Driven by duty
VITAS Healthcare honors veterans every day. Driven by a sense of duty and empowered by veteran-specific care, we help America’s treasured servicemembers navigate their final days, weeks, and months in comfort and dignity.

With over 40 years of experience providing hospice and palliative care to the nation’s veterans, VITAS has the expertise to guide dying servicemembers toward closure and peace of mind.

Bedside salutes, Veterans Day ceremonies, and individualized care plans that honor veterans’ unique experiences and needs near the end of life are core components of VITAS hospice care.

VITAS also supports the families of veterans by helping them secure benefits from the Department of
Veterans Affairs, arranging military funerals and burials, and recording the details of their loved ones’ lives in touching Life Biographies.

Well-deserved honors
To recognize Mr. Pacheco and his family, Nancy presented the veteran with a certificate of appreciation, a pin, and a red-white-and-blue volunteer-crocheted afghan. She read lines from one of her favorite poems, “It Is the Soldier.”

“It is the soldier, not the minister, who has given us freedom of religion...
It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press...
It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial...
It is the soldier, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote...”

Then she saluted her patient, gave him permission to stand down, and thanked him for his service.

“His family kept saying that no one ever honored him the way we did,” Nancy says, “and that always makes me feel good.”  

Evalisa McClure is general manager for VITAS Healthcare in Western Pennsylvania. For more information about end-of-life care options, call the nation’s leading provider at (866) 759-6695 or visit VITAS.com.

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