AARP AARP States Maryland Veterans

Veterans Supporting Veterans at the End of Life

American Soldiers and US Flag. US troops

The following is a guest blog written by a representative of Gilchrist

As a veteran volunteer for Gilchrist, I recently took part in a celebration to honor an 86-year-old Air Force veteran on hospice and thank him for his military service. I was part of a team of veteran volunteers that conducted a Salute to Service (STS) tribute, which included a final salute. The veteran and his family were deeply moved, and the veteran’s daughter shared how proud she was that her father was able to share in the salute before he died.

This was just one of the many STS tributes I have taken part in as a Gilchrist volunteer for the past eight months. As a Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran, I consider it a privilege to give back to my fellow veterans.

Each week, veterans in Maryland are recognized through one or more of Gilchrist’s “We Honor Veterans” initiatives. We Honor Veterans (WHV) is a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs dedicated to addressing the unique needs of veterans at the end of life and thanking them for their sacrifice and service.

Gilchrist honors veterans through three primary areas of focus:

o Services:

  • Salute to Service Tributes
  • Vet-to-Vet Outreach
  • Veterans History Project

o Events:

  • Veterans Day
  • Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration

o Community Engagement:

  • Vet Cafés
  • Operation Gratitude
  • Ambassador Program

Gilchrist offers volunteer opportunities for all of these important and meaningful initiatives, which are described below.

Salute to Service Tributes

Gilchrist staff and veteran volunteers in military uniform come together to conduct a brief ceremony to honor the veteran’s service. This tribute may take place in the veteran’s home, a health facility or one of Gilchrist’s centers. The tribute typically includes the Pledge of Allegiance, a certificate, presentation of the WHV pin, a handmade red, white and blue lap blanket, a thank you card made by a student and a final salute.

Vet Café

Veterans at a healthcare facility come together to talk about their military service. These discussions are facilitated by Gilchrist military veteran volunteers and staff.

Vet-to-Vet Outreach

Veterans and active-duty military volunteers provide companionship and friendship to veterans with serious illness.

Operation Gratitude

Veteran volunteers visit local schools to share their stories about service to our country. In return, the students make cards of gratitude. These cards are presented to veterans as part of STS tributes, Veterans Day ceremonies and other events.

Veterans History Project

Veteran volunteers accompany students to interview Gilchrist’s veteran patients about their military service and then submit the written or recorded work to the Library of Congress.

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Celebration

An annual tribute to Vietnam Veterans in gratitude for their service. The second annual celebration was held in March of 2019, with close to 1,000 people participating. In 2020 this special event will be held on March 22. Learn more and watch a video of this event.

Gilchrist offers many rewarding volunteer opportunities for veterans. To learn more, call Diane Sancilio at 443.849.8348 or email wehonorveterans@gilchristcares.org.

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