Media Contacts

Katie Schrier

Mar 22, 2013 10:49 AM

(Salt Lake City, Utah) – The service, rigors, values and experiences inherent to serving in the U.S. military help shape and define a veteran’s life. As veterans age, these factors may also directly influence how veterans approach illness and confront their own deaths. To assist end-of-life care providers and health and human service professionals in enhancing their understanding of veterans, as well as their interventions to better serve dying veterans and their families, Caring Connections: A Hope and Comfort in Grief Program will host Improving Care for Veterans Facing Illness and Death. The event, part of the Hospice Foundation of America Annual Living With Grief® Program, will be held Thursday, April 18, 2013 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the University of Utah College of Nursing’s Annette Poulson Cumming Building (10 South 2000 East) on the U of U campus.

“For some veterans, the pride of having served their country is a source of comfort at the end of life. For others, particularly veterans who served in dangerous duty assignments or combat, memories of those experiences may complicate the dying process,” says Katherine Supiano, PhD, LCSW, FT, F-GSA, assistant professor (clinical) and director of Caring Connections. “Given the fact that 80 percent of veterans will die in the care of healthcare institutions outside of the Veterans Administration Healthcare System, there is a need to increase understanding of veterans’ needs in all healthcare settings, and particularly those that will care for dying veterans.” Supiano says the distinct cultural and social experiences of each war can bring additional challenges to veterans facing serious illness or death. “The stoicism associated with service may be a barrier to World War II vets in accepting effective pain management; the insolence once shown to returning Vietnam veterans may still be felt by those veterans at the end of life.”

This continuing education program includes a 2.5 hour educational video followed by a local discussion with an interdisciplinary panel of experts: Shaida Talebreza Brandon, MD of the Division of Geriatrics at the University of Utah; Kelly Otteson, LCSW of the George E. Whalen Ogden Veterans Home and Donna Richards, PhD, RN of the U. College of Nursing VA Nursing Academy. Particular attention will be placed on veteran generations now aging and most likely to be seen in end-of-life care (World War II, Korean War, Vietnam).

In addition to individual interventions, the program also will look organizationally at military benefits and intersections with VA systems. Finally, the program explores the traditions and sensitivities of grieving families and resources that can assist them. The information provided by the expert panel will be useful to clinicians, administrators, and other staff working in hospice and palliative care, hospitals, long-term care and assisted living facilities.

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be able to:

1. Describe the unique components of military culture and experiences;

2. Define Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and indicate ways that PTSD might affect veterans at varied points within the lifecycle;

3. Differentiate the unique experiences and health risks of the following veteran cohorts – WWII, Korea, and Vietnam War military veterans;

4. Discuss different issues that might arise in end-of-life care of veterans such as pain management, trauma and PTSD, and forgiveness;

5. Discuss sensitivities and interventions, such as reminiscence and life review, that enhance counseling to veterans and their families.

6. Describe the varied systems of care that might serve veterans at the end of life and discuss the ways that policies and systems could enhance care

7. Describe the lessons and insights professionals may glean from caring for veterans that might have general implications for the broader population of non-veterans and end-of-life care.

Registration is $25 which includes lunch and materials. This Living With Grief® Program of the Hospice Foundation of America is eligible for three continuing education credits. A processing fee of $35 applies.

To register, contact Caring Connections at (801) 585-9522 by April 15. Media representatives are invited to cover the program.