For decades, Empath Health and its affiliate healthcare organizations have delivered full life care to everyone with advanced or chronic illnesses in the Tampa Bay area. It became evident to Empath’s clinical experts early on, though, that military veterans’ experiences toward the end of life are different than what civilians go through.
Suncoast Hospice and Tidewell Hospice are Level Five Partners of the We Honor Veterans program, an initiative of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that recognizes the need to better serve military veterans and their families. This commitment to acknowledge veterans for their service extends throughout all areas of Empath Health, including one of our newest affiliates, Suncoast Hospice of Hillsborough, under the Empath Honors program.
When veterans are living with an illness and approaching the end of life, Empath Health is there to serve them with expert care, understanding and compassion. Our teams support veterans’ personal goals and needs, including any type of suffering from their time in the military or service-connected conditions. The focus is to achieve comfort and resolution for veterans so they can live and pass on peacefully. Families of veterans also receive support, guidance with health care decision-making and connection to beneficial resources.
Empath Honors provides military service recognition ceremonies and work with Honor Flight to bring veterans to their memorials in Washington, D.C., free of charge. The program sponsors Veterans Coffee Connections and Veteran Briefings to give former service members a social outlet and a chance to learn more about the benefits available from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
An essential part of the Empath Honors mission is to recruit and utilize veteran volunteers to help us support our veteran patients. Our Veterans Serving Veterans volunteers perform recognition ceremonies for their comrades and offer camaraderie only fellow veterans can relate to. They also facilitate the Veterans History Project, where veteran stories are collected in partnership with the Library of Congress.
“This is how Empath Health and our hospice affiliates honor, recognize, and support veterans in the community,” said Trudy Beeler, Empath’s Veterans Community Partnership Specialist. “It’s connecting veterans to each other and to resources and services they don’t know about or don’t know how to access. We’ve been very successful at doing that.”
Earlier this year, Empath opened the new Auer Szabo Empath Adult Day Center in St. Petersburg to focus on veterans’ psychosocial and recreational needs and keep them healthy at home. The Adult Day Center provides veterans access to comprehensive services, including medical care; physical, occupational, and group therapies; nutritious hot meals and snacks; group activities; one-on-one or group support; and more. A Veterans Administration benefit for Adult Day Health Care covers the cost for most veterans.
Empath Health is proud to provide the Empath Honors and Tidewell Honors programs and specialized veterans services as one way to thank and celebrate those who have served our country for a job well done and a life well lived.
To learn more about Empath Honors, call (727) 467-7423 in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties or (855) 843-3935 in Manatee and Sarasota counties or visit EmpathHonors.org. To learn more about the Adult Day Center program, call (727) 328-6428 or visit EmpathADC.org. Learn how you can financially support veterans at SuncoastHospiceFoundation.org.