NEWS from Cornerstone Hospice Announces NEW Veteran Recognition
WINTER HAVEN - - Many factors can influence a veteran’s end-of-life experience. Among those factors are age, branch of service, enlisted vs. drafted, rank, combat or POW experience. Some combat veterans who have faced death in wartime are able to integrate their experiences into their lives and then become better equipped emotionally to cope with their own deaths. Many other veterans who had their lives traumatically changed suffer from social isolation, substance abuse and anxieties. Yet for some veterans, the effects of combat may not surface until they are very sick and facing the end of life. Then they may experience anxiety, agitation and vivid memories connected to war experiences.
To honor veteran patients and their families by meeting their unique needs, Pat Lehotsky, CEO of Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc., recently announced a comprehensive, veterans’ hospice program, Cornerstone SALUTES! A Cornerstone team of professionals and volunteers has been specially trained in a program designed by national VA expert Deborah Grassman and patterned under VA guidelines.
Pat Ludemann, RN and Regional Team Manager at the Cornerstone Hospice operational center in Winter Haven emphasized that many veterans experience traumatic conditions that are present today, even several decades after participation in hostile engagements on behalf of their nation. Veteran patients have very specialized, individual needs that are not solely based on medical, emotional, physical, social and spiritual issues. Their specialized care plan also identifies and treats any differences that veteran patients experience at the end of life.
Ms. Lehotsky said, “Cornerstone SALUTES! celebrates and observes the service to our nation that our veteran patients have rendered, at home and abroad, while it provides Hospice care unique to military families.” The program includes a “pinning ceremony” where a Certificate of Appreciation and a special “Honored Veteran” pin are presented to a veteran patient either by a veteran Cornerstone Hospice staff member or a veteran volunteer.
This Memorial weekend, a Hospice volunteer for military affairs and himself a Vietnam era U.S. Army veteran, Ernie Ziglar, presented Certificates of Appreciation and the special pins to two Polk county veteran patients. After presentation, veteran Ziglar stood at attention and saluted retired U.S. Army veteran Eduardo Conde (age 86) of Poinciana and also U.S. Army veteran Gary Irons (age 65) of Polk City during separate ceremonies at their homes.
“This recognition of my Army service has moved me and my family more than I can express with words,” indicated U.S. Army veteran Gary Irons as he was decorated in the presence of his son Loen Irons and daughter Valerie Rhone.
Polk County is home to 52,833 veterans. National statistics indicate that eighty-five percent of veterans do not receive care through the VA healthcare system and that most veterans die in the communities where they live. Cornerstone SALUTES! support groups are held in coordination with other veteran support groups as a supplement to overall services. Networking with other veteran services will assist families in working together and joining in the fabric of veteran support throughout the community.
The Cornerstone SALUTES! program, kicked-off during the Memorial Day weekend in the Polk-Hardee-Highlands region, will now be making its way up to Orange-Osceola and Lake-Sumter.
Since 1984, Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc., a not-for-profit community-based healthcare organization, has provided care and services to central Florida residents and to American veterans experiencing life-limiting illnesses. To learn more, call (863)291-5560 or toll-free (800)503-5756 in Polk County.
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