AUGUSTA — The Maine Hospice Council and Center for End of Life Care (MHC) has received one of 13  grants to work in partnership with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s “We Honor Veterans Program” (NHPCO/WHV) and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The goal is to increase awareness of PTSD, moral injury and suicide and subsequent impact on end of life and palliative care. This will be accomplished in partnership with community organizations, and our long-time partners at Togus VA Medical Center (TVAMC).

MHC will work with this Congressionally-mandated initiative through training and education;  distribution of tools and resources to health care providers, such as the PTSD and tele-mental health consultation services at Togus; and to improve upon the person-centered, interdisciplinary care veterans and their families receive at end of life.

MHC Executive Director Kandyce Powell, said the grant helps MHC and the many dedicated hospice programs in the state, to continue to expand quality end of life care to Maine’s veterans, which she has been passionate about for decades. In 2004, MHC was an early adopter of the hospice/veteran partnership in Maine.

Subsequently, Powell was invited by NHPCO and the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with Project Manager Donna Bales (Kansas) as project director on a three-year initiative to develop models of best practice that could enhance quality end of life care for homeless veterans and those living in highly rural areas. The experience served her well. “I do this work in honor of my dad”, Powell said. “He was with a B-17 crew in WWII.”  

The TIC grant will offer additional tools and insights into the unique needs of veterans who have experienced trauma and the lifelong impact that experience can have on the Veteran and his/her family. Many aspects of trauma surface during an end of life journey, often with ramifications for symptom management. Knowing a patient’s history of trauma, can often lead to a more effective care plan.

Many veterans are not enrolled in the VA for health care. A high percentage of veterans receive end of life services from community-based providers. That’s why it’s so important for all health care providers to have knowledge of appropriate screening tools and available consultation services in order to address the aftermath of military service, specifically the environments our women and men may be deployed to. Each conflict or war has its own unique issues.

MHC is proud to work with our partners to address the needs of veterans in Maine. We are most grateful to the staff at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization as well as Drs. Scott Shreve and Carol Luhrs for believing in the quality of our work over many years.

MHC’s mission is to act as an incubator for change, promote innovation, foster community-based collaboration, and serve as an informed convener and educator.