Lloyd Phelps epitomizes service and selflessness. A United States Marine Corps veteran who served for ten years and was wounded in Vietnam, Phelps was inspired to join Partners In Care as a veteran volunteer in 2016 after seeing his wife Marie volunteering years before.

Partners In Care’s veteran volunteers bring comfort and show dignity to veterans on hospice care through active and compassionate listening, respectful acknowledgement of their service, and support for their families.

“I am able to bring joy to their lives,” said Phelps discussing why he volunteers. “Being a fellow veteran, I can walk beside them and understand the unique challenges they may be facing and help get them the support they need to promote a more peaceful end-of-life experience.”

Although every individual is unique, veterans as a general population often have unique end-of-life needs. Many have experienced trauma, physical or moral injuries, and isolation because of their service. Some never received recognition or a welcome home. As a Vietnam Veteran, Phelps understands that better than anyone and can relate to many of the veterans he serves.

We Honor Veterans

We Honor Veterans is a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), the nation’s largest membership organization for providers and professionals who care for people affected by serious and life-limiting illnesses, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

One in four dying Americans has served in the military, according to NHPCO’s We Honor Veterans program. Here in Central Oregon, there are over 700 World War II, 1,200 Korean War, and over 7,000 Vietnam War veterans, with countless veterans of younger generations working and living across the tri-counties.

“Being a fellow veteran, I can walk beside them and understand the unique challenges they may be facing and help get them the support they need to promote a more peaceful end-of-life experience.”

Lloyd phelps, veteran volunteer, us marine corps, vietnam veteran

Partners In Care is steadfast in its commitment to veterans across Central Oregon. As a Level Four We Honor Veterans partner, we collaborate with other organizations that support veterans in Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook Counties to ensure veterans receiving Hospice, Home Health, Palliative Care, or Transitions get the resources and care they need.

Veterans are served with respect, integrity, and dignity through veteran-specific care and services provided by the nurses, CNAs, physicians, social workers, therapists, chaplains, and volunteers. Many veterans from older generations are not enrolled with the VA for benefits or healthcare and may not be aware of the end-of-life services and benefits available to them, including the Medicare Hospice Benefit and VA-paid hospice care. Much of what the Veterans Outreach team at Partners In Care does in the community is educate veterans about these helpful benefits, as well as increase their awareness of how Partners In Care supports those with serious or terminal illnesses.

Army General Daniel Hokansan, Chief, National Guard Bureau, presents Paul, a Partners In Care hospice patient, with a flag pin and certificate during a We Honor Veterans ceremony. Paul, a US Navy veteran, became a teacher following his service. Gen. Hokansan credits Paul helping him meet the standard for selection to West Point – the US. Military Academy and setting him on the road to his successful military career. Gen. Hokansan visited Paul in March 2022 to show his appreciation for his mentorship and guidance.
(Photo by MSG Jim Greenhill)

A Final Salute

At Partners In Care, our team believes in the importance of recognizing the services and sacrifices made by our veterans and their families. Some of the most impactful events we do are flag pinning ceremonies for veteran hospice patients. Those who served in the military remember long-standing traditions and ceremonies; it is important to bring the ceremonial nature of military experience back at end-of-life. During each ceremony, we present our veteran with a framed certificate, flag lapel pin, and a Partners In Care branded challenge coin; the last thing we do is offer them a final salute.

Working alongside our team of clinicians and veteran volunteers during these ceremonies, we have witnessed historically unresponsive veteran patients who respond with a squeeze of the hand when presented with the challenge coin, opening of the eyes, a ‘yes sir or yes ma’am’ when addressed with their military rank, and sometimes a salute back. Veterans who have never told their stories often share or have a release of emotions, with many people in the room hearing these memories for the first time. The experience is cathartic and powerful. The final salute, just a moment in time, can bring peace and closure to many veterans at end-of-life.

“It is my duty and honor to support fellow veterans… just being there beside them can make a world of difference,” said Phelps.

Learn more how Partners In Care supports veterans facing a serious or terminal illness.