We Honor Veterans Program

Lewis Jones spent seven years in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

So when civilians and fellow veterans stop to thank him for that service, it goes a long way toward making him feel appreciated and recognized.

“It’s a great feeling,” Jones said.

As a volunteer at TMC Hospice, Jones is able to help other veterans experience that feeling of appreciation through the We Honor Veterans program, a national awareness campaign created to address the specific needs of veterans through education and recognition.

Thanks to support from the TMC Mega Raffle, the program continues to serve the needs of more than 200 veterans during end-of-life care each year.

Saying thank you

TMC Hospice joined forces with We Honor Veterans in 2011 to create a veteran-centric culture by providing specialized care, honoring veterans and offering veteran-to-veteran volunteer opportunities as well as staff and volunteer training.

Jones volunteers with TMC Hospice once a week and feels the program is an important way to show appreciation during this stage of a veteran’s life.

“We’re not really sure if the veterans we see have received the proper recognition,” Jones said. “When they come through our program, we know it’s probably the last time they’ll be able to receive such recognition. This program was developed to tell these men and women ‘thank you for what you did.’”

Individual honoring ceremonies are held to show that appreciation, and to educate staff and family members about the patient. During the honoring, the veteran is presented with a special plaque, a lapel pin, a patriotic pillow case sewn by volunteers and a heart-shaped American flag pin for the spouse, if one is present.

“We honor the spouses, too,” said Krista Durocher, volunteer coordinator for TMC Hospice. “Especially the ones that went through the time when a loved one was in war. We honor their services and sacrifices they made while holding down the home fort.”

Since 2011, TMC Hospice has held about 1,000 honoring ceremonies.

A worthy cause

Funds from the TMC Mega Raffle have allowed TMC Hospice to continue having these important ceremonies. It has funded the purchase of plaques, flags, pins, fabric to make the pillow cases and educational materials.

Mega Raffle support has also enabled TMC Hospice to sponsor 100 wreaths for Wreaths Across America, an organization that aims to place holiday wreaths on veterans’ graves, for the past three years.

“Everyone should feel appreciated, especially these veterans who sacrificed so much,” said Steve Siwik, board chair of the TMC Foundation. “We are grateful to the Tucson community for its generosity, and for making programs like We Honor Veterans possible.”