“I am very honored to be the recipient ofthe Wheelock Terrace Senior Service Award,” said Rivera. “It is an encouragement for people to see that others are looking out for them and that no one is in this alone. I have always felt that veterans needed someone who had been there and understood what they had gone through to help them process their experiences. I am honored that I have the opportunity to help these veterans this way.”
Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice is a nonprofit home health care agency that provides home health and hospice care to individuals and families in homes and community settings, enabling people to stay in their homes as long as possible. The organization also offers community benefits like flu and foot clinics at reduced costs. The nonprofit takes care of community members of any age, but around 80 percent of their patients are seniors. Rivera is especially involved in the “We Honor Our Vets” program that provides various services for those who have served in the military and are now going through hospice care.
“Ted is one of those volunteers who does whatever it takes to meet the needs of patients,” said April Bartley, hospice program director for Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice. “He is a warm and knowledgeable volunteer who is terrific to work with. He has driven out of his way to take care of someone’s needs, and that is why we are so grateful he received this award. It is an absolute honor for us to be recognized with the Senior Service Award, and for us in turn, to recognize Ted for his hard work.”
Part of the admissions process at Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice is declaring whether or not you are a veteran. Those forms that have the veterans’ box checked are given to Rivera. He then talks with them to find out their specific needs. Many of the older veterans have never fully dealt with trauma or recorded their histories for the next generations. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was unheard of when many of these older veterans left the military, so a lot of the patients Rivera helps, just need to talk about their experiences. Rivera is a former nurse having spent several years in the psychiatric field and believes he can be of great help to these individuals.
“After I was laid off from my first job in computers, I decided to go into nursing,” said Rivera. “I felt that I could put the experiences I dealt with serving during the Vietnam War and my interest in the medical field together and become a nurse. I graduated from nursing school at the age of 50, and was a nurse for the next 15 years.”
Rivera’s favorite part of his volunteer work is helping veterans make memory books of their service that they can leave for their family members. Because many older veterans never properly dealt with their feelings and experiences from war, some family members have never heard their important and personal connections to pieces of history. Rivera tells these veterans that it is ok to not be happy about what they experienced, but that telling their story will help them finally come to peace with the situation towards the end of their lives.
“Working with seniors and veterans has helped us at Wheelock Terrace to realize how important it is to honor other area organizations that provide services for the happiness and well-being of seniors in the area,” said Nan Abbot, executive director at Wheelock Terrace Assisted Living. “We recognize the importance of the work that our friends at Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice do, and believe that Ted is a fantastic representation of how we should all do what we can to help the seniors around us. We at Wheelock Terrace enjoy doing everything we can to ensure the health and happiness of our residents and are proud to honor those in the community who do the same.”