Veterans helping veterans is a community service project that was begun with an aim of cultivating self-worth and bringing joy to people who are going through their last months of life. Veterans generally refers to individuals who have been in service in any field for a very long time and majority as geriatrics. Hospice patients mean individuals who have terminal illnesses and are going through their last days of life. Volunteers of this project were to be providing companionship and socialization to these patients. The following is a reflection of the various services that volunteers of this project have been providing to veteran hospice patients and the learning experiences they have encountered during their service.
Volunteers helping Veterans project have been visiting hospice patients in their homes and in hospitals to provide companionship and socialization. During these activities, those who visit the patients keep them company, share stories of their lives and listen to the veteran patients as they give stories of their lives. It gives the patients an opportunity to share the pains they have been going through while the volunteers listens to them, comforts them and gives them encouragement (Davis et al. 105-108).
During the community service project, the volunteers had the time to give spiritual care to the patients by having a time to share the word they believe in. Spiritual care is individualized depending on the patient’s religion. Since many patients want to be close to their faith at such a time of their life, spiritual care brings joy to them.
The community service project also gave a platform for the volunteers to play some simple indoor or even outdoor games with the patients depending on the patient’s ability. Such activities help to make the patients realize that they are still capable of doing something thus increasing their sense of self-worth and motivation to live. Other activities used to achieve this include involving the patients in activities of daily living that they can do for themselves.
During the visits to the patients, the participants of Veterans helping veterans, community service project also got a chance to provide moral support and counselling to the veteran hospice patients. Moral support and counselling plays a great role in helping the patients cope with many issues related to terminal illness, thus helping them have happiness in their last few months of life. Such issues range from fear of the unknown outcomes of their obvious death to issues like low self-image and self-denial.
Veterans helping veterans as a community service project provided good learning experiences to the participants of its activities. One of the lessons learnt during the activities is that veteran hospice patients need people to talk to about the issues going on in their lives. They need someone who listens to them and understands them and sharing their predicaments reduces their worry and pain. Listening to them and showing understanding alone increases their happiness despite their terminal illnesses.
The project has also helped the volunteers learn that companionship plays a great role in improving the veteran hospice patients’ lives. Keeping them company reduces loneliness and limits the time these patients have to think about the issues facing them in their terminal illnesses. It reduces their level of psychological stress and keeps them happy most times. The outcomes of reduction in stress are improved social life and good health which improves their lives.
Volunteers of Veterans helping veterans, community service project have also learnt that everyone wants to be as independent as possible. A feeling of independence increases once motivation to live and cultivates a sense of self-worth. This is observed through involving the veteran hospice patients in activities of daily living that they can do even if with support. Involving the patients makes them feel valued and increases their self-esteem and consequent happiness.
Participating in the community service project has also provided a platform for the students to gain a wide knowledge on various terminal illnesses. Through interaction with the veteran hospice patients and their health care providers the students learn healthy lifestyles that can make them live better with a terminal illness. Such knowledge include knowing the best food to eat when having a certain terminal illness in order to be healthy. Students also learn the various managements geared towards a healthier and happier life pertaining to each of the terminal illnesses (Kruse et al. 315-322).
In conclusion, students who have been in the Veterans helping veterans, community service project have participated in various activities aimed at providing companionship and socialization to veteran hospice patients. Such activities include talks, counselling, moral support, games and spiritual care. The students have learnt many things during their service, including the importance of moral support and listening to hospice patients. They have also gained knowledge on the managements of various terminal illnesses that help to improve lives of patients. This project has therefore not only made the students to participate in improving the lives of veteran hospice patients, but has also been a learning experience for them.