Serving those who served our country
Angelic Hospice Committed to Caring for Veterans
America’s veterans face end-of-life difficulties that other hospice patients do not. From PTSD, to substance abuse, to moral injury issues that haunt them throughout their lives, veterans present a unique set of needs. Recognizing veteran concerns, Angelic Health has partnered with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) We Honor Veterans Initiative to respond to the increasing needs of those who served this country. This focused program offers guidance and resources for veterans and their families during the challenging time of a terminal or life-limiting illness.
“We must look beyond the diagnosis and understand the history of these men and women as it relates to their experiences in Military service,” said Krystyna Cechulski, MSW, Angelic Hospice who heads up the We Honor Veterans Initiative at Angelic Health.
An Army veteran herself, Cechulski is passionate and well- versed in the trepidations that veterans confront at the end of life. She serves as a resource guide and educator for hospice nurses, home health aides, social workers, professional support staff, and volunteers, as well as healthcare facilities, and the public on how to recognize and treat veteran-specific concerns. Recognizing the military service of individual patients with pinning, certificate and flag presentations provides an opportunity to thank our veterans face to face.
Angelic Health Hospice offers a holistic support which includes working with veteran organizations within the community.
“We find that many veterans and their families are unaware of the resources available to them, “explained Cechulski, “We connect them with services and programs that can help their situation. The way we provide quality end-of-life care to our veterans is to learn more about them, and address concerns surrounding isolation, trauma and their illness.”
Each era of service presents its own specific concerns. It is important to understand that there were and continue to be many concerns about the association between the illnesses and symptoms veterans report and their exposure to toxic agents, environmental and wartime hazards, and preventive medicines and vaccines they received. In addition to physical health issues, the experiences of veterans including death, torture, mutilation, and both civilian and military atrocities contribute to mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, homelessness, anger issues, and suicide.
While military veterans all have similar maladies from exposure to nuclear, chemical, or biological agents, trauma from artillery, and assaults on the mind and body, each theater presents specific problems.
Veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq (Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom) have breathing issues, high-altitude illness, percussion, burn and blast injuries, infectious diseases, and multi-drug resistant infections.
A Veteran Administration study revealed that Persian Gulf War veterans are more than twice as likely as other veterans to develop Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain, memory and concentration issues, headache and rash are also prevalent.
The Vietnam War was a long and unpopular war, and for many veterans the wounds of Vietnam will never heal. They reported coming home to a hostile civilian environment, being spat upon, and being uncomfortable wearing their uniform in public. Following the war, Vietnam vets experienced readjustment problems and adverse health effects attributed to Agent Orange.
The VA now recognizes conditions which are presumed to be related to service in Vietnam including soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin's Disease, painful and disfiguring skin disorders, respiratory cancers, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, acute peripheral neuropathy, and spina bifida in offspring.
According to the We Honor Veterans initiative, cold injuries including frostbite and immersion (trench) foot constituted a major medical problem for U.S. service personnel during the Korean War. It is important for health care staff examining and caring for veterans who have experienced cold injuries to be familiar with the recognized long-term and delayed symptoms. These include peripheral neuropathy, skin cancer in frostbite scars, and arthritis in involved areas. Cold-related problems may worsen as Veterans age and develop complicating conditions such as diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, which place them at higher risk for late amputations.
During WWII, morbidity from such diseases as tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, hepatitis, and tropical diseases was high. Besides infectious diseases and wounds, other health risks of WWII included injuries from excessive cold which may result in long-term health problems, including changes in muscle, skin, nails, ligaments, and bones, skin cancer in frostbite scars, vascular and neurologic injury with symptoms such as bouts of pain in the extremities, hot or cold tingling sensations, and numbness.
In the 1940’s, the Department of Defense recruited “volunteer soldier” subjects for experiments using mustard agents to evaluate clothing, ointments, and equipment to protect American troops from mustard agent attacks. The We Honor Veterans project reports that nearly 60,000 military personnel were involved in research from drop patch testing to severe, full-body exposures.
Veterans who were involved in the occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, and veterans who were prisoners of war in Japan during World War II may have participated in nuclear cleanup.
Krystyna Cechulski, MSW, heads up the Angelic Health We Honor Veterans Initiative. An Army veteran herself, Cechulski is passionate and well- versed in the trepidations that Veterans confront at the end of life. She serves as a resource guide and educator for hospice nurses, home health aides, social workers, professional support staff, and volunteers, as well as healthcare facilities, and the public on how to recognize and treat Veteran-specific concerns.
Veterans History Project
We can all learn more about our country by listening to our Veterans. These men and women of the military have amazing stories to tell and memories to share. It is why Angelic Health Hospice Volunteer Services partnered with the Millville Air Museum for a workshop to train participants of the U.S. Library of Congress Veterans History Project. Through Angelic Health’s affiliation with the Library of Congress, volunteers in the community are training to interview Veterans to document their stories. The interviews and memorabilia will be housed in the Library of Congress.
Donald Long is a man of service. A former Marine, stationed in Okinawa, Japan and after his tour of duty he became a police officer in Bridgeton, retiring a few years ago after 21 years. A native of Deerfield Township, he works for a security service and donates his time as a hospice Vet to Vet Volunteer. “My daughter Kaitlyn is a hospice social worker and mentioned about the opportunity to speak to veterans and the need for Veteran volunteers,” said Long, “I find it very interesting hearing about the experiences of fellow veterans, especially those who served in combat.”
Long visits Angelic hospice patients and participates in the Veterans History Project. All U.S. veterans are invited to participate, regardless of branch, rank, or gender. They may share a recorded oral history, as well as donate original photos, letters, etc. Each veteran will have his or her own webpage on the Library of Congress’ website. Their story will be preserved and made accessible forever at the Library of Congress. Volunteers are needed to help record these priceless interviews.
The U.S. Congress created the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center in 2000 to collect, preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. Learn about becoming a Vet to Vet Volunteer by contacting Kayla Montoro, volunteer coordinator at KMontoro@angelichospice.net, or call 609-515-2330.
Photos of Presenters at the training included:
Bob Trivellini of Millville, is Vice President of the Board of the Museum and a former History teacher and long-time Program Coordinator and Grant Writer for Millville Schools. He has 19 years of experience in facilitating the Veterans History Project.
Tim Kiniry, of Vineland is our mock veteran interviewee, and 99-year-old veteran and former US Army medic. He treated the wounded at the Battle of the Bulge and the prisoners at Buchenwald Concentration Camp shortly after liberation by the US Army.
Community Resources for Veterans
These services and programs provide support, and assistance to veterans.
Help.org provides a guide of comprehensive information on substance abuse statistics among veterans, governmental programs that offers treatment, and steps that veterans can take to get the help that they need. To learn more visit: https://www.help.org/substance-abuse-rehab-for-veterans/
Angelic Health's Partners and Affiliations
Angelic Health provides Palliative, Transitional, Hospice Care, and house call primary medicine and TeleHealth services, and is proudly accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC). ACHC accreditation reflects our dedication and commitment to meeting standards that demonstrate a higher level of performance and patient care. We are also a member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), and are privileged to be a hospice partner in the We Honor Veterans initiative.