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Volunteer Veteran

A Veteran's Bond: The Transformative Journey of a Compassus Hospice Volunteer

volunteer veteran

At the Compassus Colorado Springs hospice program, a new Compassus hospice volunteer recently embarked on a journey that would profoundly impact his life and the lives of those he served. A veteran himself, his initial reluctance to open up about his experiences gave way to a moving narrative about connection, understanding, and the universal journey of life and its culmination.

The Unspoken Bond

Assigned to another veteran, this hospice patient and the volunteer found common ground in their shared experiences, a bond that transcends the usual patient-volunteer dynamic. It’s a poignant reminder of the deep connections that can form when two people share similar life-altering experiences, even if their paths have only crossed towards the journey’s end.

A Moment of Truth

The most memorable moment came during what would be their last visit. The patient, with a clarity and openness that often accompanies the final stages of life, shared with the volunteer, “I’m dying,” followed by “Estoy muriendo” in Spanish. This moment of raw honesty underscored the trust and rapport they had built. For the volunteer, it was a stark realization of the vulnerability and strength that come with facing one’s mortality.

Lessons in Compassion and Companionship

This exchange, while brief, encapsulated the essence of hospice care — providing comfort, acknowledgment, and companionship during the most challenging times of a person’s life. The volunteer’s reflection on this experience highlights the importance of presence. Simply being there, offering a hand to hold, and recognizing the shared humanity between volunteer and patient can be incredibly comforting.

The Impact of Onboarding Classes

The volunteer credits the comprehensive onboarding classes at Compassus for preparing him to face such emotionally charged situations with grace and empathy. Understanding that dying is a part of life and learning how to offer support without overstepping are crucial skills that these classes emphasize. They aim to equip volunteers with the knowledge and emotional resilience required to navigate the complexities of hospice care.

Beyond Gratitude

In their final exchanges, the traditional roles of caregiver and recipient blurred into a mutual expression of gratitude and respect. The volunteer’s parting words, “we’re brothers in arms, you and me, we’re one,” signify a profound acknowledgment of their shared journey — not just in the context of their military background but in the shared human experience of life, loss, and legacy.

A Transformative Experience

For this Compassus volunteer, the experience with his first patient was more than an introduction to hospice volunteering; it was a transformative journey that highlighted the power of connection, the importance of empathy, and the indelible impact of compassionate care. It serves as a poignant reminder of the significant difference volunteers can make in the lives of hospice patients and their families, offering a sense of peace, comfort, and companionship during life’s final chapter.

As Compassus continues to welcome volunteers from all walks of life into its hospice programs, stories like this underscore the immense value of volunteerism and the profound human connections at the heart of hospice care.

To learn more about our volunteer program, click here.