Combination of physical, psychosocial and spiritual support aids veterans in hospice

“When the war ended, I really never talked about it, but boy, it’s stayed with me.”

“You don’t know how many times I’ve relived it.”

This is just a sampling of comments The Hospice of the Western Reserve hears from patients who are veterans. Hospice providers are one of the privileged organizations to have the honor and responsibility of caring for those who served in our armed forces. A growing number of veterans are either nearing their anticipated life expectancies or coping with advanced illnesses.

Experiences related to military service present challenges that require specialized training, tools and resources. Service has a profound impact on end-of-life experiences, including recalling memories of a difficult past.

The compassionate trans-disciplinary approach of hospice, which encompasses physical, psychosocial and spiritual care, is uniquely suited to helping veterans reach a place of peace.

The need for hospice care for veterans is particularly acute in Ohio, which has the sixth largest population of veterans in the nation. An estimated 200,000 veterans are living in Northeast Ohio, with some 20 percent having served in either World War II or the Korean War, 30 percent are Vietnam era veterans and the remaining population has served in conflicts that occurred in 2001 or later.

Unique needs

Hospice professionals are empowered to meet the unique needs of dying veterans. We Honor Veterans, a program offered by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, teaches respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and acknowledgement — to comfort patients with a history of military service and possibly physical or psychological trauma.

The program also provides tiered recognition to hospice organizations that demonstrate a systematic commitment to improving care for veterans, known as “Partners.” Hospice of the Western Reserve is honored to be among an elite group that has earned Partner Level Four status, designating the highest level of commitment to quality end-of-life care for veterans.

Community hospice providers, in partnership with VA staff, learn how to accompany and guide veterans through their life stories toward a more peaceful ending. The program provides educational tools and resources in advancing these goals.

Hospice care teams receive education about post-traumatic stress disorder, remorse and regret, substance abuse, and how the life experiences of veterans shape their end-of-life preferences. Staff members capture their personal legacies and document experiences for future generations.

Care is deserved

Every veteran deserves to be recognized for his or her service. The Hospice of the Western Reserce coordinates many public and community ceremonies, during which each veteran is personally thanked and provided with a special lapel pin.

Veterans, families and loved ones find these ceremonies to be deeply moving and meaningful.

For some veterans, it’s difficult to give up the mission — to do anything other than survive. Whether they are combat veterans or cooks, men or women, pilots or sailors, they have a shared life experience that affects how they live, and more importantly for us, how they die.

Wal-Mart plans to hire 100,000 veterans over five years

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Tue Jan 15, 2013 — Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, said it plans to hire more than 100,000 veterans in the United States over the next five years, a move supported by first lady Michelle Obama.

Most of the veterans will be placed in the company’s stores and clubs, and some will be employed in distribution centers, Walmart U.S. Chief Executive Bill Simon said in a speech to be to delivered on Tuesday at the National Retail Federation conference.

The retailer will start issuing job offers to veterans from Memorial Day in May. The offers will be given to any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first twelve months off active duty.

“Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make … veterans have a record of performance under pressure,” Simon said in the speech, a copy of which was provided to Reuters.

Wal-Mart said in a statement that it had spoken with the White House about the hiring commitment and Michelle Obama’s team had expressed an interest in working with the retailer.

“As our wars come to an end and our troops continue to come home, it’s more important than ever that all of us – not just government, but our businesses and non-profits as well – do our part to serve those who have served us so bravely,” Michelle Obama said in the Wal-Mart statement.

Walmart U.S. is the largest retail chain and the largest private employer in the United States, with about 1.3 million employees.

How to tap into the growing labor pool of service members to benefit your business

Laurie Bradley, President, ASG Renaissance

A projected 175,000 service members will be exiting the military in the next year. When they return to civilian life, these young veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will face an unemployment rate of 23 percent, contributing greatly to the Department of Defense’s annual unemployment compensation payments of more than $900 million. However, at the same time, there are 1.7 million high-wage, high-demand jobs open in the U.S. today that match the skills of service members, representing more than $136 billion in gross wages.

“Many service members do not fully grasp the value of their training and experience in the work force and end up underemployed or unemployed as they struggle to find work,” says Laurie Bradley, president of ASG Renaissance.

Smart Business spoke with Bradley about how hiring veterans can benefit your business.

Why are veterans seemingly being overlooked in the marketplace?

Part of the reason is because it’s very difficult to translate military experience into a civilian resume. For example, an infantryman with 20 years of experience in the Army might state on his resume that he ‘operated weapons and tanks and dug ditches.’ He needs to convey these skills in terminology recognized in the civilian world of work, such as ‘supervised, trained and evaluated 35 personnel, and supported more than 2,500 troops in four countries. Core competencies include personnel management, logistics and operations.’ This will help the reviewer match these skills to possible employment opportunities that may include logistics or personnel management.

Once you overcome the language barrier, you can recognize some of the softer skills people have learned in the military, for example, being entrepreneurial, which is crucial today. Service members understand how to be part of a team and have respect for a team, which can translate to any job. They also have cross-cultural work experience and have worked in very diverse environments, traits that many employers seek. The stereotype of service members just following orders and not thinking is outdated. It’s a new military today that operates in ever-changing environments.

What are some industries that would benefit from veterans and their skills?

The skills of service members translate well into any industry. You want people who are not only able to learn a product or a service but also who have good communication skills and are adept at skills transfer. Our military really demands that people think on their feet and react very quickly, making the right choices in a very short timeframe. In the fast-paced business environment we all compete in today, that is a great attribute to have.

What are the benefits of hiring veterans from a marketing perspective?

The message of being a veteran-friendly environment is significant. Having a veteran-friendly message in your hiring materials helps improve a company’s image, because you don’t have to look far to find someone who is or who knows a soldier. It really supports a message of inclusion and speaks to the fact that a company has been thoughtful in its hiring process as it looks to source talent across a broad spectrum of potential candidates.

From a tax perspective, new rules provide for an expanded tax credit for employers that hire eligible unemployed veterans. The credit can be as high as $9,600 per veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 per veteran for tax-exempt organizations.

To qualify, the employer must file a request with the local state agency for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.  This applies for veterans hired on or after May 22, 2012, and before Jan. 1, 2013.

How can companies better integrate veterans into their businesses?

Start with a great outreach program. Be clear in your hiring message and have the ability to translate military resumes to determine if you have a fit. Companies should consider installing a customized onboarding program that includes a partner or coach to help the new hire navigate the civilian employment world.

The program should be sensitive to the varying needs of veterans, including those who have only been out of the service for a few months, or ones who have been back in the market for a year or more. In general, it’s important to make sure your onboarding process includes cultural acclimatization to the civilian work force. Civilian corporate culture is not as black and white as the military and language and communication styles differ. Former military personnel can be formal and direct, whereas civilian communication styles can be much more nuanced. The U.S. military has a top-down system for making decisions, while many civilian companies have a more bureaucratic process.

Where can companies find veterans?

There are job boards and employment services that cater to military personnel in transition, such as Hire A Hero,, or contact your State’s Director for Veterans’ Employment and Training (DVET).

Are there reasons a company might not hire a veteran?

Concerns range from post-traumatic stress syndrome to skills transfer and the gap between military and civilian work styles. Some employers are uncertain how to provide work site accommodations for those with physical injuries, but there are a host of resources to navigate these concerns.

Just as with civilians, you have to evaluate each person on a case-by-case basis. Employers need to spend the time in the hiring process to determine if there is a fit.

If you know that there is a pool of talent that has the skills to do the job, why wouldn’t you consider putting that to work? Those who served our country are ready to transition those skills and dedication to service into the civilian world of work. Ultimately this translates into a win for both the employer and the veteran.

Laurie Bradley is president of ASG Renaissance. Reach her at (248) 477-5321 or [email protected]

Insights Staffing is brought to you by ASG Renaissance

General Electric to hire 5,000 U.S. veterans, investing in plants

WASHINGTON – General Electric Co. plans to hire 5,000 U.S. military veterans over the next five years and to invest $580 million to expand its aviation footprint in the United States this year.

The largest U.S. conglomerate unveiled the moves ahead of a four-day meeting it is convening in Washington starting on Monday to focus on boosting the U.S. economy, which has been slow to recover from a brutal 2007-2009 recession.

“We should have the confidence to act and to restore American competitiveness,” Chief Executive Jeff Immelt, a top adviser on jobs and the economy to President Barack Obama, said in a statement.

The U.S. unemployment rate – seen as the main barrier to a move vibrant recovery – fell to a near three-year low of 8.3 percent in January, helped in part by the manufacturing sector adding about 50,000 workers. Even with that improvement, 23.8 million Americans remain out of work or underemployed, which is keeping the economy a key issue heading into November’s presidential elections.

The world’s largest maker of jet engines plans this year to open three new U.S. aviation plants, in Ellisville, Mississippi; Auburn, Alabama, and Dayton, Ohio. After cutting headcount significantly during the recession – as did its major peers including United Technologies Corp and Caterpillar Inc. – GE has added about 9,000 U.S. workers since 2009, and has already announced plans to hire another 4,500 people.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company, whose operations range from making loans to mid-sized businesses to manufacturing railroad locomotives, plans to discuss these moves at the Washington meeting. Boeing Co. CEO James McNerney and Dow Chemical Co. CEO Andrew Liveris are also scheduled to speak.