Kindred Honors Veterans

By Maggie Cunningham

vetdaycisheaderDesignated as a national holiday after the end of World War I, Veterans Day was first celebrated in 1918 as a way to recognize veterans and honor their patriotism. As a healthcare provider, this day is especially significant to us, because so many of the people we care for are veterans or are connected to veterans in some way. Because of this special connection, Kindred makes a point to honor veterans in multiple ways, not just on Veterans Day, but all throughout the year. 

vetday1Gulf War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Bryan Anderson was a guest speaker at our Support Center Veterans Day ceremony. Following that event, a group of veterans were able to join us for an extended presentation by Anderson during which he shared more details about his service, his experiences as a combat-injured veteran and his work with USA Cares, a national charitable organization that addresses the critical and unmet needs of post-9/11 veterans and military families.

Growing up near Chicago, IL, Anderson excelled in both academics and athletics. He was an accomplished gymnast who participated in state-level competitions. In 2001, Anderson enlisted in the Army. He served two tours of duty in Iraq while stationed in the Baghdad area, and he attained the rank of Sergeant in the Military Police.

As a Gulf War veteran, Anderson was injured in 2005 by an improvised explosive device (IED) that resulted in the loss of his left hand and both of his legs. He completed 13 months of rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Hospital and was awarded the prestigious Purple Heart by the United States Armed Forces. (To learn more about Anderson, check out this feature fromThe Today Show .)

vetday4Today, Anderson travels the country making personal appearances on behalf of organizations such as USA Cares, delivering his message of perseverance and determination.  He also relishes every opportunity to challenge his limits. In addition to being an author, an actor and stuntman and a character in a Marvel comic book, Anderson enjoys skateboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing.

The ceremony was presented in partnership with USA Cares. They provide assistance with jobs, housing and emergency situations as well as offer financial support to combat-injured veterans to help pay their basic expenses.

vetday3Receiving approximately 300 requests per week, USA Cares pays out more than $25,000 in assistance weekly, and in most cases, support is provided within 48 hours. Your donations can help USA Cares make an immediate and significant impact on the lives of veterans and military families. If you would like to learn more about USA Cares and find out how your donation can help support their mission, please visit www.usacares.org .

Meanwhile this Veterans Day, at the 2015 Clinical Impact Symposium (also in downtown Louisville) attendees heard from Chris Mitchell, Vice President of Kindred at Home - Hospice. Mitchell is a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel whose distinguished service spans twenty years. Mitchell served two combat tours and received a bronze star for valor and another for meritorious service. During his service, he was a military parachutist and Army Ranger and served in planning, leadership and operational roles in rapid deployment services.

All of these accomplishments aside, the first thing Mitchell said after taking the stage this morning was, " I should be thanking all of you."

mitchellvetday1Mitchell spent the majority of his time speaking to the recognition and goals of the "We Honor Veterans" program that Kindred provides. Established in 2010, We Honor Veterans' goals are to not only provide the best possible care for veterans but to also offer tiered certifications to clinicians through the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

We Honor Veterans runs as a community-wide partnership, and because of this, it provides an opportunity to connect each of our different service lines and bring the enterprise together. The program is veteran-centric, which means it focuses solely on the specific needs and treatments of veterans.

To do this, the program includes robust educational tools that teach clinicians about different special needs (such as PTSD or Agent Orange) that may be associated with military service and combat in different parts of the world. The success of the program relies on efficient communication, coordination and collaboration amongst all healthcare providers and sites of service.

mitchellvetcis2Mitchell highlighted two incredible facets of the We Honor Veterans program. The first of which is the program in Evansville, Indiana, which was ranked as the number one in the country by the NHPCO because of their volunteer programs, which help capture the veterans' stories in a project for the Library of Congress. The other highlight was the pinning ceremony that is done for veterans in our skilled nursing facilities, where the veterans are honored by active duty military in full colors who recognize their service with a special lapel pin.

Kindred and our We Honor Veterans program are dialing up the efforts and energy to expand the services even further this year. Kindred is grateful for the honor to provide service back to the servicemen and women who keep the United States safe all year round.