Newsmakers Making A Difference: 'No Veteran Dies Alone' Program

Julie Mann
August 16, 2018 - 7:22 am

WBBM Newsradio/Julie Mann

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- "It's a privilege," according to Jean Davidson, who is a volunteer at the Department of Veterans Affairs' Lovell Federal Health Care Center, an intergrated VA - Department of Defense hospital in North Chicago with the program "No Veteran Dies Alone" that provides comfort to terminally ill veterans.  

The program started in 2013.

"We never bring up the fact that they are in hospice, only if they want to tell us about that," Davidson said.  "Some of them might say to me, I'm dying and there are ways to reassure them."  

Davidson said there are several ways to provide a dying veteran reassurance by holding their hand, by talking to them and listening. 

"There are a lot of times I've sat with veterans who had some regrets. It's important to listen to those regrets because it's almost like a confession to us," he said.

WBBM Newsradio/Julie Mann

"No Veteran Dies Alone" program volunteer coordinator Scott Palmer said if a volunteer isn't available, medical staff will sit with the veteran.

"And that is 24/7 until the veteran passes," according to Palmer.  "The patient is literally never alone."

WBBM Newsradio/Julie Mann

Bill Gibbons 88-year-old father Jerry was a veteran of Korea and died earlier this year at Lovell. Gibbons said he was grateful for what the volunteers did for his father and his family.

"To go home with the comfort he wouldn't be by himself," Gibbons said.

WBBM Newsradio/Julie Mann

Kenny List is Chief of Voluntary Services at Lovell and said their program stands out because of the dedication of the people who give their time to make sure a veteran, who served the country leaves this world comforted. 

"All the wonderful volunteers that sit all the countless hours. That's why our program has been so successful, because of the people," List said.   

Photo provided

The final salute is the last step in honoring the veteran as they leave hospice care at Lovell. 

As part of the "No Veteran Dies Alone" program, volunteers and medical staff at Lovell will line up on both side of the hallway where the veteran will be moved through after their death for a final salute and a final goodbye. 

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.

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