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Veterans Give Back by Volunteering at Hospice

Veterans John Mott and Dave Clark provide a direct service to many hospice patients and families, including fellow veterans, as volunteers for Bluegrass Care Navigators. The organization serves nearly 1,000 veterans in hospice care each year.

Mott, a Vietnam Veteran in the Marine Corps, said “I started volunteering [at Bluegrass Care Navigators] last year - I had been volunteering with a local hospice in Ohio. And I just found that time and energy was very rewarding. Not only am I able to help another person in need, but it was satisfying to me to be able to give back in that way.”

Bluegrass Care Navigators’ veteran volunteer program adds a special component of care for hospice patients. The organization tries to match veteran patients with volunteers who served in the same wars or time periods, and the program seeks to provide social and emotional connections that only another veteran could provide to the patient.

Clark also finds the volunteering gratifying. “The best way I can describe it is that it has been as good for me as I think it has been for the people I visit and volunteer,” said Dave. Dave was also a Vietnam Veteran who served in the Air Force.

Both Mott and Clark perform Veterans Pinning Ceremonies as part of the We Honor Veterans program. As a Level 4 partner in the We Honor Veterans program, a collaboration through the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization and the Veterans Administration, Bluegrass Care Navigators has been specially trained to address the unique needs of our nations’ veterans at end-of-life.

Mott has performed four of these ceremonies and found them extremely fulfilling. “The ceremonies are rewarding, probably more so for the family members than the veterans themselves. After we conduct the formal part of the ceremony, we usually stay and chat for a while about what the veteran was doing at their time of service.”

“I recently completed a ceremony with a commanding officer of a special forces group and I was really honored. There was something that really impressed me about him, and I was so blessed to do the pinning ceremony for him,” said Clark.

Volunteers play a vital role in hospice. They are able to sit with patients when family and friends are not able to be there, help with administrative work and much more. Many volunteers state that volunteering gives them satisfaction at being able to help someone at the end of their life and to give back to the community.

“Spending time with people who are actually going through their final chapter, I learn a lot. Every visit I make, I learn something that better prepares me for my own death. It’s not only the satisfaction of being in service, I feel like I get a whole lot out of it myself,” said Mott.

“I believe I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my time, and I’m giving back at this particular time in my life. I feel blessed to be able to do it, and I hope what I do is a blessing to someone else,” says Clark.

If you are interested in finding out how to volunteer with Bluegrass Care Navigators, please go to bgcarenav.org/more-about-us/volunteer.

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