OSWEGO COUNTY – Oswego County Hospice recently honored one of its own, Machinst Mate 3rd Class (E-5) Keith Labeef of Fulton, as part of the national ‘We Honor Veterans’ program.
“‘We Honor Veterans’ is an innovative new program developed by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Betty Dunsmoor, LMSW, volunteer and bereavement coordinator at Oswego County Hospice. “It was created to better serve veterans and provide them with respectful and compassionate end-of-life care, which lines up with our own mission. Any Oswego County veteran who is facing a life-limiting illness is eligible for care.”
She continued, “Of the more than 23 million veterans currently living in the U.S., over 600,000 of them die every year. To put this in perspective, more veterans are anticipated to perish each year for the next decade than the number of servicemen and women who died in all of the second World War. With the aging of the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam-era veterans, an increasing number will require end-of-life care.”
There are five levels of the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program that organizations can strive to achieve. They all begin as recruits to learn about and commit to the program.
Level 1 provides veteran-centered education for staff and volunteers and helps them identify patients with military experience.
During Level 2, organizations build their capacity to provide quality care for veterans.
Local hospice groups and veterans’ organizations and medical centers work toward developing and strengthening their partnerships during Level 3.
These organizations “earn their stars” in Level 4 by demonstrating their commitment to offer veteran-specific care and services with a highly-skilled workforce.
Level 5 is a new component that ensures partners place a significant emphasis on educating staff and caring for combat veterans.
Dunsmoor said, “Oswego County Hospice is a model for quality end-of-life care. Currently, we are at a Level 3 standing and working toward Level 4 by striving to increase access to this quality of care for the veterans in our community.”
“Much like the military, this involves a team-oriented approach; from medical care and pain management to emotional and spiritual support,” she added. “By recognizing the unique needs of our veterans, we are better able to assist them toward a more peaceful and dignified death.”
The recent ‘We Honor Veterans’ presentation was made to Keith Labeef, a Vietnam War veteran who served aboard the USS Charles H. Roan from 1962 to 1965.
A native of Fulton, he is the father of four daughters and has nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Senior Master Sergeant Jeff Wallace, a 26-year retired veteran of the U.S. Air Force, serves as a volunteer and chaplain for Oswego County Hospice and made the presentation to Labeef while many of his family members looked on.
“It was truly my honor to represent the military and hospice in presenting a ‘We Honor Veterans’ certificate and pin to Keith and his daughter Yvette,” said Wallace. “Being a veteran and a volunteer for hospice reminds me of the important contribution he made, along with many other servicemen and women, in securing our nation’s freedom.”
For more information about Oswego County Hospice and the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program, contact Dunsmoor at 315-349-8259 or [email protected]