Volunteer Recognized for Service to Veterans
Lisa Norton, Communications & Development Manager
November 11, 2020
Angela Hospice volunteer John Stern was honored recently by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) for his dedication to meeting the needs of veterans at Angela Hospice and in the community.
NHPCO’s Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Awards celebrate volunteers who make significant contributions to hospice programs, reflecting volunteerism in its truest sense. One of five honorees selected from across the U.S., John received NHPCO’s inaugural award for the We Honor Veterans service category.
Along with his wife Lucy, a former hospice nurse, John helped bring the We Honor Veterans initiative to Angela Hospice in 2013, and has been spearheading the effort ever since. John assembled a team of eight volunteers to help coordinate and conduct ceremonies to honor veterans under Angela Hospice’s care. To date, they have formally recognized over 500 veterans, providing each one with a certificate and letter of thanks, pins to commemorate their branch of service, and other meaningful mementos acknowledging their service our to country.
“It’s just a simplistic service, but it has got such tremendous meaning,” John said. “It’s important because a lot of veterans were never thanked for their military service.” John shared that the ceremonies mean a lot to patients’ family members as well.
In addition to recognizing the service of veterans, John has also helped to provide education to the public and healthcare community about veterans’ specialized needs at end of life.
“As a Vietnam Era veteran, he saw all too often how poorly and disrespectfully fellow service men and women were treated upon returning home from serving their country,” said Angela Hospice Director of Volunteer Services Teri Schmitchen, who nominated John for the award. “He has heard personal accounts from veterans about their wartime experience and has grown in his empathy and knowledge on how to best support veterans. He has become an advocate and an ambassador for our agency, for our country, on how to do right by our veterans.”
John accepted his award via video message at NHPCO’s Virtual Interdisciplinary Conference held in October. Edo Banach, NHPCO president and CEO, called John and his fellow awardees “volunteers who demonstrate remarkable service, compassion, and commitment. Their gift of caring has a profound impact on patients, families, and the communities they serve, and we cannot say thank you enough for the support they provide.”