by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
Valir Hospice has been honoring America’s veterans for more than a decade now.
But Vice President of Hospice Care Laura Trammell, M.Ed, LPC wanted to make sure Valir’s Veteran’s program was the best it could possibly be so she sought out retired Major Traceee Rose, APRN, to make it happen.
Valir Hospice Care is a family of dedicated professionals who care for terminally ill patients, providing them and their families with physical, psychological, social and spiritual support. Using individualized pain – and symptom-management plans, Valir works to enhance the patient’s quality of life.
With a significantly large veteran population, Valir Hospice serves scores of military families each year.
“One of my goals is for her to continue to educate our team that works day-to-day with our veterans and share her knowledge and speak that speak that she knows how to do and educate our team,” Trammell said of Rose. “I think she’s going to be the bridge that we’ve definitely needed in order to have the best program out there.”
The critical care nurse brings her 27 years of Army experience with her to her new role as director of clinical operations.
“I hope to bring enthusiasm. I love veterans because I am a veteran and my dad is a veteran,” Rose said. “I love hearing the stories, being able to talk with them and share their commonalities and being able to speak their language.”
That language is one of shared strife and successes, of losses and victories and of bonds forged.
For many veterans, that language is often lost forever.
But both Trammell and Rose have seen first-hand rekindling that fire at the right moment can bring peace to not only patients but their families.
“A lot of people say they have veteran’s programs but what does that really mean,” Trammell said. “We’re extremely dedicated and we’re extremely proud of it. My father served in Korea and he never spoke about what happened to him.”
“Like Traceee says there are stories out there all the time. I knew we had to do something. I would want my dad honored like this. It’s amazing what our military has done for us.”
Rose retired from the Army in September 2017. The Nurse Corps officer spent nearly three decades serving her country and finished her career in Hawaii.
She wanted to continue to make a difference.
“I had been in large medical facilities my entire nursing career,” Rose said, noting her last hospital had 425 beds with 5,000 employees. “I wanted to find something, somewhere smaller – not necessarily hospital-based where I could feel my ripple effect. Sometimes we get lost in a big pond and you’re just a cog in a wheel.”
Trammell interviewed Rose and quickly realized she needed to put her behind the wheel of Valir’s veterans services.
Even though the armed forces provides palliative care in a different setting, the trauma and intensive care nurse quickly fell in love with the new position.
“All veterans have a story. Every veteran has a story and sometimes they’re just not ready to talk about it or they don’t think it’s relevant right now,” Rose said. “They feel they just did their job and then got out.”
In the future Rose would like to partner with more veteran’s organizations to work with in outreach projects.
“The closeness and camaraderie, it just felt comfortable. I knew I wanted to work there,” Rose said. “Just being able to hold a hand and reassure a family, that’s the rewarding piece of all of it.”
It’s no coincidence that Rose felt a pull that Valir was investing in veterans.
CEO Tom Tucker is a West Point graduate and owned a company that forged the Purple Hearts bestowed to those wounded or killed in service.
“It is a gift to the family and a lot of times it’s the part they need in the grief cycle to help them adjust to what’s going on,” Trammell said of honoring veterans before they pass.
“It can bring a lot of understanding,” Rose added. “A lot of it is understanding who your parent was because your parent lived a whole life before you came along.”
Those special ceremonies where families get to see their loved ones honored often provide a glimpse into a world they never experienced.
“We’ve been able to see – even patients with significant dementia – they recognize when they’re being honored,” Trammell said. “It’s been very special for the families to see a little bit of their loved one come back toward the end of life.”
And to honor them as the hero they are.