Anniversary of veterans, military honors

Jay FitzOur Town Health

Of the 17 million veterans in the U.S., only about one-third receive medical care at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, while the other two-thirds receive care at civilian hospitals. Covenant Health hospitals care for many military veterans and active service members, and one year ago this month, the health system implemented a recognition program for these patients.

Since Nov. 3, 2020, more than 11,000 service members have received care at Covenant Health hospitals. The military recognition program gives hospital employees the opportunity to honor and thank patients for their military service with pins, certificates and other recognition.

Cindy Winterberger with hospice chaplains at Veterans Day parade

Cindy Winterberger, LMSW, clinical social worker at Covenant HomeCare and Hospice, has coordinated the hospitals’ military recognition program and has been integral in implementing training and activities related to active military and veterans’ care at Covenant Health. She explained that questions about military service have been added to the hospitals’ admission process.

“When a person has been identified as military or veteran, it creates a moment for staff members to thank the patient for their service and sacrifice through special pins or other acknowledgement,” she said. Winterberger added that noting military information in a patient’s file will be helpful if the patient has any future admissions to Covenant Health hospitals.

“The first 12-month period of honoring veterans in our hospitals has proved very meaningful, especially for our staff who are also veterans,” she said.

In addition to hospital patients, the pinning ceremony and recognition initiative has been in place for more than six years at Covenant HomeCare and Hospice, the area’s largest nonprofit home health and hospice provider. The organization is a top-tier (Level V) partner with We Honor Veterans, a national awareness and action campaign created to assist veterans in hospice care. As part of the Level V designation, Covenant HomeCare and Hospice continually expands services to better connect with veterans in the community and to provide specialized care for veterans and their families.

“The majority of veterans seen by Covenant Homecare and Hospice have been Vietnam Era veterans, but we thank and recognize veterans of all branches and all eras. For veterans facing end-of-life care, Covenant Hospice regularly presents ceremonial pins and certificates of thanks,” Winterberger said. “My dad is a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran and my grandpa was a WWII Army veteran. Pride in my country has been instilled in me from a young age. If not for the brave men and women who have stood to defend our nation, where would we be?”

Information provided by the marketing department of Covenant Health.

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