VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care Enriches Edward and Marcella’s Lives
At age 90, many years beyond his World War II military service, Edward Flanagan expressed regret in his final days that his Naval medals and discharge papers had gone missing. So it was with great pride and gratitude that he received them anew—including the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal—from VNSNY Hospice veterans liaison Joe Vitti in a bedside recognition ceremony. Said Edward’s wife, Marcella, “Being a veteran always inspired his honor and dignity.”
Joe worked with the Department of Defense and the National Archives to track down copies of the medals and papers as part of our hospice program’s commitment to serving military veterans at end of life. In recognition of these efforts, VNSNY has received the highest rating, Level Four, from the national We Honor Veterans campaign. Developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs, We Honor Veterans collaborates with hospices, state hospice organizations, and Veteran Affairs (VA) health care facilities to make US military veterans better aware of end-of-life care and benefits available to them.
Joe, who is himself a veteran, not only helps veterans get documents in order but also helps guide veterans and VNSNY social workers through the labyrinthine VA health care system and trains staff members and volunteers to better understand the impact wartime combat can have on veterans, even decades later—the most common effects being post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt. “Every war veteran has a unique story,” says Joe. “Our partnership with We Honor Veterans makes it possible to let hospice veterans in New York know that their service has not gone unnoticed, and that it is greatly appreciated.”
At Mr. Flanagan’s bedside, Joe ended the medals ceremony as he always does: with one final salute from one veteran to another.