ROCKFORD (WREX) – Janine Idstein took over as the director of the We Honor Veterans program at Heartland Hospice close to five years ago.
Before she arrived, the program wasn’t being used to it’s full potential.
“When I started at Heartland, everybody knew that we were partners in the We Honor Vets Program, but there wasn’t really one person who was running with it, said Idstein.
Heartland Hospice has hosted close to 40 veterans events since Idstein arrived and admitted 25 veterans into their service just last month.
“I’ve never had an employee that has really stayed with it. I’m so proud of the work that she’s done,” said Heartland Hospice Administrator Pam Weiss.
Idstein shares in the feeling of pride, but she says it comes from seeing the changes in her Heartland staff in buying into the program.
“When I started doing this nobody really knew which patients were veterans. It wasn’t on anybody’s radar. As we have gone through the program, the staff has had a lot of educational opportunities,” said Idstein.
“They’re asking the questions and they’re excited about it.”
The most recent event was a celebration of Vietnam War Veteran’s Day on Friday, Mar 29.
As the name suggests, it brought together veterans in our area who served during the Vietnam War.
It left a lasting impact on many of the people that attended, including Vietnam army veteran Alan Wight.
“I really appreciate Janine and what she did. “She goes above and beyond of what she could have done,” said Wight.
“She is very well versed in what the veteran’s troubles have been and she wants to do her part to raise awareness for the veterans.”
It’s a role Idstein says she cherishes with the recognition she receives from veterans and their families.
“They remember the things that we did and they tell us what it meant to them and that’s really the most gratifying part.”
The We Honor Veterans program at Heartland Hospice is at the highest level a branch of the program can be, sitting at a level 4 status awarded for their commitment to improving care for veterans.