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ACA 2018 Conference & Expo Sessions

356 - Soldier’s Heart: Counseling Combat Veterans at End of Life

Apr 29, 2018 7:30am ‐ Apr 29, 2018 8:30am


Counselors may feel unequipped to address the personal, spiritual and trauma needs of veterans at end-of-life, but must develop fluidity, adaptability and courage for these important final conversations. Research on this topic has largely been conducted in the medical community, but counselors play a significant role in supporting veterans in making peaceful transitions from life to death. This presentation draws on interviews with over 80 veterans to identify insight and knowledge about their end-of-life needs.

This presentation will support counselors who currently work with or who are interested in working with combat veterans at the end-of life. My research includes: -     My research, including 80+ extensive oral histories conducted with veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and between war conflicts. Samples from interviews will be included in the presentation to illustrate various end-of-life needs. -     Support from the research of Deborah Grassman, whose groundbreaking work as Direct of Hospice for the VA is taught extensively throughout hospices nationwide. -     A review of the current literature related to end-of-life care for combat veterans.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify the specific military culture considerations for counseling combat veterans.
  • Describe the clinical implications of the war/conflict and time period in which the veteran served.
  • List specific techniques for compassionately meeting the needs of combat veterans at end-of-life


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