At Bethesda, respect for life is the top priority. Now a new program in its communities honors military Veterans in death as well.
The Veteran Escort Ceremony, coordinated by Leslie Schaeffer, Outreach Coordinator with Bethesda Hospice Care, is observed at all Bethesda skilled nursing communities.
Veteran Escort Ceremony
When a Veteran dies and the funeral staff arrives, the body is covered in an American flag. Next, an announcement is made that a procession will begin. Employees, family members and residents who are able to are encouraged to line the hallways to salute the passing of the body. Family members walk beside the Veteran as the gurney makes its way to the front door. At this time the flag is removed and folded according to military procedure.
“Family members tell us they feel blessed and honored to be a part of the program,” Leslie says. “They are so grateful for the way we pay tribute to their Veteran loved one.”
According to Leslie, the idea sprang from the “We Honor Veterans” initiative in which Bethesda Hospice Care is at the top level of the program. “There are criteria to meet, which includes identifying the unique needs of Veterans, listening to their military experiences, and acknowledging their service,” she says.
The Bethesda Difference
Leslie believes the Bethesda Veteran Escort Ceremony is unique to skilled nursing communities in the St. Louis area. Bethesda presented the innovative program to the Missouri Hospice and Palliative Care Association’s 2018 Leadership Development Seminar in Jefferson City earlier this year.
Future plans include a similar observation for all Bethesda residents.
In addition to our Veteran Escort program, Bethesda honors Veterans through the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight. Each year, we celebrate Veterans Day with our residents and their families. To learn more about the senior care and services Bethesda can provide for your Veteran loved one, schedule a tour today.
Continue reading for more Veteran stories from Bethesda.