We are working with state, county and regional veterans-services personnel to provide staff education on hospice services. Veterans Administration representatives are training our staff on veterans' benefits, and how they can be integrated with Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance.
The life-changing experiences our veterans encounter in the service of our country can have a profound impact on their physical, emotional and spiritual needs, making the diagnosis of a chronic illness particularly difficult for them to cope with.
Hospice and palliative care are part of the basic benefits package for enrolled veterans in all settings.
However, contrary to common perception, 85 percent of veterans do not take advantage of their federal Veterans Affairs benefits and are cared for in the public sector. Of veterans who are VA-enrolled, 96 percent will pass away in the community rather than in VA facilities.
There are more than 167,000 veterans throughout Samaritan Hospice's service area of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer Counties.
Through our network of friends and referrals, we know many are in need of assistance, and we want to help spread the word about the benefits to which veterans are entitled through the VA, Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurers.
As baby boomers age, the number of veteran deaths in the United States this year is expected to reach 687,500 (1 out of 4 American deaths), including almost 20,000 in New Jersey.
Those needing end-of-life care should know that support is available from the hospice community.
At Samaritan, we have set up a phone line - 1-888-384-4VET - for South Jersey veterans looking for support.
We have also dedicated a Web page to veterans' issues - www.samaritancares4vets.org. It includes links to state and national hospice organizations.
We encourage veterans and their caregivers to reach out to Samaritan or another hospice serving their community.
Mary Ann Boccolini
President and CEO