Veteran Health Partners
The primary aims of the Veteran Health Partners (VHP) group are to provide meaningful services to veterans and build understanding between Stritch medical students and veteran patients in a hospital setting. National shortcomings in the quality of care veterans and their families receive have been well described in recent years, and this group takes a small but important step to raise awareness and improve understanding in issues surrounding veterans’ health through simple acts of kindness and volunteerism. For both medical students and the patients they serve, a key goal will be to share perspectives through open conversation and time together.
Volunteer activities primarily take place at Hines VA’s Residential Care Facility (RCF) through specialized recreation therapy for veteran patients experiencing paralysis or other disabilities and receiving long term care. Before pairing students with RCF patients, the veterans receiving long term care must first express interest in volunteer services. Stritch students may then apply to serve as partners in health for assigned veterans at Hines VA. Through monthly hospital visits, medical students can offer support and companionship to their veteran patients during their medical journey, improving their quality of life in ways big and small by demonstrating how much they care. By equal measure, student volunteers, traversing their own journey in health care, will be reminded that extending an outstretched hand has the capacity to move the provider as well as the patient in unexpected ways.
Whenever possible, the Hines VA volunteer staff and Stritch student coordinators will attempt to preserve longitudinal relationships between volunteers and the veterans they have served previously. Visits of at least one hour are a good baseline, but the VA staff welcomes all contribution levels. Over time, student volunteers will have the opportunity to establish a lasting bond with the veterans they serve and become more inclusive, inspired, and fully-equipped physicians as a result of their experiences.
Other VHP activities may include: veteran and military physician guest speakers, additional Hines VA volunteering opportunities, fundraisers for military families in need, veterans’ health awareness events, military medicine networking events, and former service faculty shadowing opportunities, among others.
- William Hopkinson
- Sabrina Bedo