The Hospice and Palliative Care initiative in VA took on renewed strength and vigor in 2008 when specific funding was allocated to this initiative. Since then, Palliative Care Consulting Teams (PCCTs) have been developed in every VA facility. Regional oversight of these teams is being provided by a Program Manager and a Clinical Champion, positions that VA Central Office directed regional offices to hire. Partnering with all major national hospice and palliative care organizations, the VA has now entered the crucial phase of training and educating its staff. Train-the trainer programs specific to VA have been developed by these national organizations to meet the needs of all disciplines providing palliative care services to veterans.

Opportunities are usually accompanied by challenges, which are not significantly different for VA than for the non-VA palliative care programs. Supply of a skilled workforce, access to quality palliative care, and evidence based practice standards are some of the prevailing challenges.

The VA has positioned itself as a leader in hospice and palliative care. It is reassuring to know that this most important and essential part of health care has also become integrated into the mainstream of the care we provide to our nation’s heroes.