It’s the underlying theme in how Empath Health honors and serves veterans across the community.
New this year, the Veterans Coffee Connection is an opportunity for veterans of all ages and eras to come together to share stories, foster community growth and to know they are not alone. It’s also a chance to learn about resources, benefits and other advocacy groups that are available to veterans.
“This group is about making new connections in their neighborhood,” explains Trudy Beeler, veteran’s professional liaison for Empath Health. “It’s pouring coffee, having doughnuts and pastries and letting the day go where it will.”
There is no formal agenda for these monthly meetings. The conversation is driven by participants. Whether it is discussing life challenges, finding ways to serve the community or building a support network, there is nothing off-limits. It’s a chance for more than just finding resources. The Veterans Coffee Connection is a time for getting to know neighbors and forging bonds that continue between coffee breaks.
“As a military spouse, I feel like the lifestyle is unique. Civilians don’t always understand the sacrifices and the impact it has on a service member,” says Beeler. “Once you leave the military that structure stays with a lot of them. Being able to connect with others is potentially beneficial.”
The first Veterans Coffee Connection kicks-off Friday, February 14, 2020 at 10 a.m. at the Gulfport Senior Center. There is no obligation to attend monthly and veterans of all ages are welcome to attend.
Veterans are a group that historically underutilizes hospice services. It is Beeler’s task to work within the VA health care system and the greater veteran community to dispel the myths about what hospice care is and isn’t, advocate for veterans and ensure they and their families/caregivers are aware of the resources that are available.
“Pinellas County is resource-rich, but organizations don’t always know each other exists,” adds Beeler. “I’m working to connect the dots to create a better network.”
Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, is a Level Four Partner of the We Honor Veterans program, an initiative of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). This commitment to gratefully acknowledge the veterans we serve extends throughout all areas of Empath Health, under the Empath Honors initiative.
Empath Honors offers military service recognition ceremonies and also works with the Veterans History Project to collect first-hand accounts of veterans’ military experience and Honor Flight to bring veterans to their memorials in Washington, D.C. free of charge.
Recognizing that veterans may have unique needs at the end of life, trained veteran volunteers provide support to veteran patients and families through a brotherhood and sisterhood of shared experiences and values. They bring camaraderie to their fellow veterans and may also help connect Empath Health to other veteran-focused organizations.
To best serve the veteran community, it is important to understand not only the people behind this group but also how demographics are changing over time. To address this, other new initiatives for the upcoming year include recognition of military spouses and an increased focus on Vietnam veterans.
Join the Conversation
Veterans Coffee Connection
Second Friday of the month at 10 a.m.
Gulfport Senior Center
5501 27th Ave. S.
Gulfport, FL 33707
For more information call Empath Health’s Veterans Professional Liaison Trudy Beeler at (727) 643-4939.