Caring for vets at the end of life

    One in four Americans facing the end of life is a veteran–and they often have specific issues related to their military and combat service. An event at St. Joseph’s University Wednesday will address their challenges.

    Soldiers are typically trained to be strong, to put up a tough front and get through a bad situation. Many keep that attitude until the very end, says hospice care expert Deborah Grassman who has worked with veterans for decades.

    “They often try to hide their pain, or hide their fear, or hide emotional pain, so that can add another layer or burden really to what they are already experiencing as they are coming to the end of their lives,” said Grassman.

    Grassman will share her experiences with caregivers and health-care professionals at the Wednesday event.

    She said many veterans carry emotional wounds, or feel guilt about war-time actions. She works to help them let go.

    “I try to create a safe emotional space where they can understand that they don’t have to carry the burden of that stoic front any longer,” she said.

    Grassman said she often asks simple questions, and then sits quietly to give vets a chance to talk if they want.

    Most vets die outside of the Veterans Affairs system in community hospitals or at home, she said. So health-care and hospice professionals, as well as families, need information about caring for veterans, to understand their unique perspective, and how it might affect their last months.

    Event Info:

    “Wounded Warriors: Their Last Battle”

    with Deborah Grassman

    8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,  Nov. 9

    Free to professionals and volunteers in the community interested in the unique needs of our veterans and their care.

    Hosted by St. Joseph’s University, City Line Avenue in Philadelphia, at the Campion Center’s Presidential Room.

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