Program that connects military members with veterans in hospice seeks volunteers

Autumn Nickel & Dori Sterkenburg speak about Vet to Vet Volunteer Program
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 11:09 AM CST
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - An area program is in need of those with military backgrounds to provide companionship to veterans receiving hospice services.

ProMedica offers hospice and palliative care services throughout the greater central Wisconsin area. It was previously called Heartland Hospice. It facilitates several volunteer programs, however, the Vet to Vet program is one of the ways veterans are honored.

Dori Sterkenburg is one of the account liaisons at ProMedica. She said there are many ways for veterans to get involved.

“We have many activities that they can be involved in. One is Dream flights. We fly World War II vets, Vietnam vets and Korean vets in Stevens Point and Waupaca,” said Sterkenburg.

Veterans can also become involved on Veteran’s Day.

“We are hosting many different activities in our facilities and throughout the communities, where we have our veteran patients. Like, Vet to Vet cafes. We will bring in pizza, or do an ice cream social, and just let them socialize with each other in facilities and in the communities. But then they can also sit bedside with one of our patients or just go and do visits,” she explained.

Veterans can also assist in more subtle ways.

“They can deliver stockings at Christmas, they can help write out cards. We have a warm clothing drive for veterans that are homeless. So the impact is, is great in the community. But also with our veterans, we see that a vet-to-vet conversation is a very quick connection. And they will draw out things and stories and feelings that they typically won’t share with a civilian. So especially at end of life, it gives them a lot of peace,” Sterkenburg continued.

Interested veterans will receive training. The volunteer schedule is also very flexible.

Autumn Nickel is also an account liaison at ProMedica. She said all of their staff is also trained in those special considerations for caring for Vets at end of life.

“This program is very special to us. It’s something that we really enjoy providing to our patients. And so if somebody’s interested in volunteering, if they have any other ways that they’d like to volunteer, we’re always open to new ideas, they can contact our office and talk to one of our volunteer coordinators,” said Nickel.

If you have a military background and are interested in volunteering with Vet to Vet call 715-344-4541.