HELENA — The Montana VA Health Care System (MTVAHCS) is looking for Montanans to give their time, care and love by joining the "No Veteran Dies Alone" program.
The program itself is nationwide, and this is the first year the program will be in Helena.
As a partner, the volunteer will offer a support system to a veteran who has a life-threatening illness and is currently in palliative care and does not have family support.
MTVAHCS palliative care coordinator Victoria Cronin works to enhance the quality of life of patients who have severe or complex illnesses.
"I think, many veterans carry some deep wounds, and some of it related to their military experience and to have another human being there that they can reach out to and that person reaches back, that can be an incredibly healing experience," Cronin said.
Jessica Helms, the clinical care coordinator for Inpatient Nursing in the Emergency Department, is also involved in the Nurse Practice Council.
Being a part of the Nurse Practice Council, Helms is included in voting in programs like "No Veterans Dies Alone."
During her time as a bedside nurse, she sees first-hand the benefit in her patients that have family support and care compared to other veterans who have none.
"Your presence provided so much to a veteran who would otherwise be alone at the end of their lives and being able to provide a veteran with a dignified death and a little bit of comfort in that final journey," Helms said.
As a partner, the volunteer is the dying veteran's friend and ally to offer that love, support and care.
"That one on one, I see you, I care about you, I will come to know you that's grabbingly absent," Cronin said.
Before becoming a partner, volunteers are screened, interviewed and take part in a training course.
"Specific training developed for the volunteers to go through it will kind of walkthrough, what to expect when participating in this like physical things, spiritual things, issues that can come up with family members as this is a super tense time for a lot of families," said Helms.
The next training course will be on May 4, 2021. Volunteers can call Montana VA Health Care System Voluntary Service at (406) 447-7345 or the Palliative Care Coordinator (406) 447-7624 for additional information.