Heritage Hospice achieves ‘We Honor Veterans’ level five status

Published 10:52 am Thursday, November 18, 2021

WWII Veteran Leo Larsen was surprised by provider liaison Sharon Martin and community liaison Erika Perry to honor him for his service! Leo is 99 years old and served during WWII for three years with the United States Air Force. When he realized what was happening he was delighted and overwhelmed with joy.

Heritage Hospice in Danville achieved level five status with We Honor Veterans in October, which is the highest level in the program. It is one of only two hospice centers in Kentucky to reach this level.

We Honor Veterans is a national partnership program by the Department of Veterans Affairs with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). Partners can start at level one and can advance through the levels by completing educational programs and hosting community events.

Partners keep their level status for one year and have to recertify annually. The program added level five in 2018, and it took hard work for Heritage Hospice to achieve, according to Community and Provider Liaison Sharon Martin.

“Level five, for me personally, was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had in my work career; and I’ve been [at Heritage Hospice] for 15 years,” Martin said. “The biggest thing for me is to be able to thank them face to face, thank them for their service and welcome them home.”

Martin hosted many in-person and virtual events for veterans in the past year, including several welcome home events for Vietnam veterans. She also collected data, worked with volunteers, and found different ways to honor veterans.

“Our motto here for veterans is to serve those who have served us,” Martin said. “We feel like veterans have gone above and beyond for our freedom and at Heritage Hospice we go above and beyond for our patients.”

Heritage Hospice took part in presenting pins and certificates to 210 veterans in Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln, and Mercer counties to honor their services.

Heritage Hospice Executive Director Janelle Wheeler said, “It has been an amazing journey that has allowed us the opportunity to meet so many wonderful individuals and their families.”

Martin is looking forward to a major event next year on Veteran’s Day that will serve veterans in four counties. The center has hosted this Veteran’s Day event for over 10 years but was unable to in 2021. The event serves a homemade picnic lunch to over 1,000 veterans.