Skip to main content

Honoring Veterans


This Veterans' Day, stop and think about the World War II Veteran. The average veteran of WWII is now over 85 years old.  Currently 500 WWII veterans die every day. The "Greatest Generation" is in need of geriatric palliative care.

The next WWII veteran that you care for, ask them if they have been on an Honor Flight. If you have not heard about Honor Flights, read more about this amazing program here.  I once had the pleasure to see an Honor Flight arrive to Reagan National Airport (DCA) and the entire airport stood in applause.  It was truly moving as the leader of the group asked the terminal to cheer for these heroes.

The Honor Flight takes veterans and flies them (with medical volunteer support) to DC to see the WWII memorial on the mall (the program has expanded to Korean and Vietnam Wars' veterans as well.)  The WW II memorial was not completed until 2004, and by the time it was finally dedicated, many veterans who had waited for decades hoping to travel to the monument were too sick to make a long drive.  Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Captain and pilot with a group of 12 other pilots flew a group of veterans to DC, and in 2005 the Honor Flight was born. By 2012 the program had transported over 98,500 veterans to DC and the program has 127 hubs in 41 states and 20,000 veterans flew in 2015. Flights are accompanied by medical personal and assistants and other volunteers and no veteran is ever charged for the experience.

I can testify to just how important the Honor Flight can be.  So many WWII veterans returned home after the war and never discussed the difficulties they experienced. Many families decribe how "Dad was different after returning from the Honor Flight, as if a weight was lifted from his chest." One patient had been so looking forward to the flight which was the last thing on his "bucket list."  He died within days of his return, happy. The advice of one veteran to another was "Don't wait, go as quickly as you can."

But what do you do for the frail aging veteran for whom even an air trip would be too hard?  This is where the promise of technology can really make a difference. Honor Everywhere uses virtual reality technology to bring the frail veteran on a virtual trip to DC.  Instead of attempting a long arduous journey, the Honor Flight experience is brought to the veteran in his or her own home, or assisted living or nursing home. The veteran  is (virtually) greeted by cheering crowds at the airport as the Honor Flight arrives to DC, and then experiences a trip to the Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and finally the World War II Monument. Watch the video. The veteran can feel like he has traveled, without ever leaving home or the bed.

If you care for terminally ill veterans, ask them if the Honor Flight would be important for them.  If it is and they are too frail to go, think about setting up an Honor Everywhere virtual visit.

This makes a difference!


by: Paul Tatum

Photo credits: of the Central Missouri Honor Flight 2012 at the World War II monument and second photo is from the Honor Everywhere website video of the virtual experience.

Comments

Alex Smith said…
Thanks Paul for this post. I had not heard about this important program.

Popular posts from this blog

Practical Advice for the End of Life: A Podcast with BJ Miller

This week we talk with BJ Miller, hospice and palliative care physician, public speaker, and now author with Shoshana Berger of the book "A Beginner's Guide to the End."

As we note on the podcast, BJ is about as close as we get to a celebrity in Hospice and Palliative Care.  His TED Talk "What Really Matters at the End of Life" has been viewed more than 9 million times.  As we discuss on the Podcast, this has changed BJ's life, and he spends most of his working time engaged in public speaking, being the public "face" of the hospice and palliative care movement.

The book he and Berger wrote is filled to the brim with practical advice.  I mean, nuts and bolts practical advice.  Things like:
How to clean out not only your emotional house but your physical house (turns out there are services for that!)Posting about your illness on social media (should you post to Facebook)What is the difference between a funeral home and mortuaryCan I afford to die?  …

Improving Advance Care Planning for Latinos with Cancer: A Podcast with Fischer and Fink

In this week's GeriPal podcast we talk with Stacy Fischer, MD and Regina Fink, RN, PhD, both from the University of Colorado, about a lay health navigator intervention to improve advance care planning with Latinos with advanced cancer.  The issue of lay health navigators raises several issues that we discuss, including:
What is a lay health navigator?What do they do?  How are they trained?What do lay health navigators offer that specialized palliative care doesn't?  Are they replacing us?What makes the health navigator intervention particularly appropriate for Latinos and rural individuals?  For advance care planning? Eric and I had fun singing in French (yes French, not Spanish, listen to the podcast to learn why).
Enjoy! -@AlexSmithMD




You can also find us onYoutube!



Listen to GeriPal Podcasts on:
iTunes Google Play MusicSoundcloudStitcher

Transcript

Eric: Welcome to the GeriPal podcast. This is Eric Widera.

Alex: This is Alex Smith.

Eric: And Alex, I'm really excited about toda…

The Dangers of Fleet Enemas

The dangers of oral sodium phosphate preparations are fairly well known in the medical community. In 2006 the FDA issued it’s first warning that patients taking oral sodium phosphate preparations are at risk for potential for acute kidney injury. Two years later, over-the-counter preparations of these drugs were voluntarily withdrawn by the manufacturers.  Those agents still available by prescription were given black box warnings mainly due to acute phosphate nephropathy that can result in renal failure, especially in older adults. Despite all this talk of oral preparations, little was mentioned about a sodium phosphate preparation that is still available over-the-counter – the Fleet enema.

Why Oral Sodium Phosphate Preparations Are Dangerous 

Before we go into the risks of Fleet enemas, lets spend just a couple sentences on why oral sodium phosphate preparations carry significant risks. First, oral sodium phosphate preparations can cause significant fluid shifts within the colon …