Volunteers needed to help comfort veterans in hospice

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- As our nation's veterans get older and go into hospice care many of them don't have family members or friends to spend time with before they pass.

North Florida's VA system offers bedside comfort to hospice patients with the "No Vet Dies Alone" program and they have expanded the program to include volunteers.
People who sign up have a trial period where they work with a supervisor to get them acquainted with the hospice unit and the veterans.
Not every volunteer needs to be on-call and you can come in as your schedule allows whether it's once a week or 5 times a week.
Your main responsibility is to provide mental comfort in a veterans final days or hours.

Carrie Ambrose is a clinical psychologist with North Florida's VA system who explained what a volunteer would be doing if they sign up. "Hopefully if they do come on call it's a familiar relationship already so that time can be spent doing whatever the veteran prefers doing. Positive reminiscence, talking about what's going on in the present, playing cards, watching tv just having a conversation that brings that veteran joy. We also have an outdoor patio area so if the veteran likes to go outside that can be accommodated."

Ambrose says about 50 percent of veterans in hospice do not have family members who can spend daily time with them which makes volunteers so important.

Right now there are 4 volunteers signed up for the program if you are interested in helping you can call the VA Voluntary Services department Toll Free at 800-324-8387, ext. 106068 or locally at 352-548-6068