Music, art and photographs transcend time. They can transport us back to defining moments in our lives, and provide peace and comfort when the days are overwhelming.
John Good, chaplain for Homeland Hospice, uses images and music to provide a sense of normality for military veterans during their end-of-life journey. He strives to bring “out of the box” approaches to help veterans and their families find comfort and healing.
“When patients receive a terminal diagnosis, their life narrows,” John says. “I try to find something that resonates with them as a person – not a patient – to bring purpose back into their lives.”
John carries a Bluetooth speaker with him to quickly access music. While visiting a veteran from World War II, John played a patriotic march by John Philip Sousa. Although he was in his final hours of life, the veteran snapped to attention, saluted and made the sign of the cross.
More recently, John worked with a former tank commander who served in the Korean War. During their conversations, John learned the commander loved working with his hands and constructed grandfather clocks prior to his illness.
John enlisted the help of his daughter to collect wooden tongue depressors and referenced online sources like Pinterest for ideas. The commander’s focus shifted from his illness to creating crafts, like miniature birdhouses, using the tongue depressors. He proudly gave them to family and friends, and the nurses providing his care.
“I’m humbled to help our distinguished veterans,” John says. “It’s an honor to help them find comfort after their sacrifice for us all.”
John’s work is part of the We Honor Veterans program, created by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The program works to improve the quality of health care for all veterans. Homeland Hospice has been part of the program for six years.
While not a veteran himself, John holds a special place in his heart for those who have served our country. When visiting veterans in hospice care, John likes to partner with volunteers and chaplains with military service.
“I love to see the veterans salute each other,” John adds. “It brings pride and honor to the veteran in hospice care at a time when they need it most.