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Pinning ceremony salutes veterans

Leland Paulson, Clear Lake, was one of several veterans recently honored for his military service by ADORAY Hospice.

The U.S. Army veteran who had served in World War II was surrounded by family and local Veterans of Foreign Wars officers for the ceremony at his home, where he was awarded an American flag lapel pin and received a personalized certificate of appreciation for his service to our country.

The not-for-profit ADORAY Hospice has pinned 14 veterans since October 2012, as part of the "We Honor Veterans" partnership between the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and Department of Veterans Affairs.

One in four Americans facing the end-of-life is a veteran. To respond to the needs of these dying veterans, the government mandated that VA facilities must either provide hospice and palliative care services for all enrolled veterans or offer services from a community hospice, such as the Baldwin-based ADORAY.

"We value our veterans and hope more will become aware of and take advantage of their hospice benefit," said Paula Johnson, RN, ADORAY Hospice manager. "As with all of our hospice patients, it is our goal to help our veterans live their lives with the highest possible quality, dignity and comfort."

"We have had the privilege of providing hospice care for veterans who served in all of the wars from World War II to the present including those who served in times of peace," said Johnson.

Hospice care professionals are experts in providing end-of-life care for patients facing a terminal illness who have six months or less to live. Hospice care enhances quality of life to help the patient achieve goals, such as remaining at home or attending a grandchild's upcoming wedding, and living as comfortably as possible.

The hospice team provides physical symptom management, and emotional and spiritual support for the patient and family. Volunteers are available for assistance with everyday needs, like preparing meals, running errands or simple companionship.

"Three hospice volunteers helped us start the We Honor Veterans program and have continued to do the pinning ceremonies," said Debbie Milligan, ADORAY Hospice volunteer coordinator.

Vietnam Veteran Greg Burton, Hammond, completed the ADORAY Hospice volunteer training in 2012 because he was interested in honoring other veterans and wanted to help ADORAY get started.

"The pinning ceremony gives honor to the men and women for their service," said Burton. "It's a way to say thank you."

After the pinning, veterans, if able, and their families are encouraged to share stories from their time in the service.

Duane Church, River Falls resident and ADORAY Hospice Volunteer, listened to the stories about the man he was honoring, a U.S. Air Force serviceman during the Korean conflict just as Church had been. "His wife talked about their life in Arlington, Vir., when her husband had been picked to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery."

Often, ADORAY Hospice also gives the veteran a patriotic quilt donated by an individual or quilting group. New Richmond resident Joe Helgevold, a U.S. Navy air traffic controller in the late 1950s, was one of the recipients of a hand-made quilt donated by Baldwin resident Doris Birkett.

He wrote a thank you letter to ADORAY and Birkett which stated, "As a member of the fifth generation of servicemen and women in my family, it's particularly meaningful to me as I know it will be to my grandson, Aaron. He will receive [the quilt] after I pass on. Aaron is in the U.S. Marine Corps now."

Another ADORAY Hospice Volunteer, Don Nelson, Baldwin, had grown up as a "military brat" while his father was in the Marine Corp. He takes special interest in World War II. When Nelson does a pinning ceremony for a World War II vet, he wears a period uniform borrowed from his role in World War II reenactments.

"Doing the pinning ceremonies for our vets is an honor and privilege for me," said Nelson. "Anything we can do to honor veterans is important."

Veterans have unique, often unrecognized hospice needs that complicate the dying process, according to the VA. For example, the military culture instills stoic values that might interfere with peaceful dying.

"In hospice, we provide individualized plans of care for every patient. Our veteran patients' understanding and reaction to end-of-life feelings, symptoms and changes are impacted by the experiences they encountered during their time of service," said Johnson, who directly cared for patients as a hospice nurse before becoming the hospice program manager. "Early admission to hospice is the best way to design the plan of care for the patient's specific needs. Getting to know our veterans and understanding their experiences is the optimal way to achieve the highest quality of life possible for them as well as a positive experience for their families as they care for them."

Veterans or family members of a veteran are invited to call ADORAY at 715-684-5020 or 800-359-0174 to learn more about the hospice benefit.

ADORAY Home Health and Hospice,, is a not-for-profit agency proudly owned by Baldwin Area Medical Center; Hudson Hospital & Clinics; River Falls Area Hospital; and Westfields Hospital, New Richmond. The second-hand stores Treasures from the Heart, Baldwin and River Falls, raise funds to help ADORAY serve patients in our communities. ADORAY has served patients and their families in St. Croix, Pierce, Polk, and Western Dunn counties for over 18 years.