Veteran Stories Shine as Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care is Honored with Highest Level in National Veteran Hospice Care Program
As one of the first women to serve in the U.S. Navy Reserve during WWII, service has always been a way of life for Margaret Durbin.
That service was celebrated when Durbin’s care team at Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care (PPHPC) surprised her this fall by sending her a certificate of recognition and customized dog tags. The 20-year Colorado Springs resident has been receiving hospice care from PPHPC since September after blood clots were found in her legs.
“Soon after my mom began hospice care, she received a certificate of appreciation from the care team for her military service,” said Durbin’s daughter, Susan Mroch. “PPHPC takes great pride in recognizing veterans, and that is special for us.”
Because of the organization’s commitment to veteran care, PPHPC has been recognized as a Level 5 Partner with We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).
The designation indicates that PPHPC is able to provide specialized, holistic care for veterans who are facing a life-limiting illness. PPHPC cares for an average of 93 veteran patients each month — amounting to nearly 30 percent of PPHPC’s total hospice patients. In 2020 alone, PPHPC has cared for 317 veterans from across all branches of the U.S. military.
“This honor recognizes the exceptional level of care that our dedicated staff members and volunteers give to veterans each day,” said Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care President Dawn Darvalics. “We celebrate this recognition alongside our veterans and their loved ones.”
Level 5 is the highest level We Honor Veterans partners can attain and includes several required activities, including spiritual and mental support services, staff education, and specialized care for Vietnam-era and combat veterans.
Commitment to military veterans runs deep for PPHPC. In February of 2020, the organization appointed Lt. Col. (Ret.) Eileen Flanagan, Clinical Nurse Educator, as its coordinator of the We Honor Veterans program. Under Flanagan’s leadership, PPHPC staff conducts regular activities to celebrate veterans. Recently, volunteers assembled and delivered special “Welcome Home” packets to honor 16 patients who served in Vietnam.
During the coronavirus pandemic, PPHPC implemented a program to safely deliver certificates, customized dog tags and pins to veterans in their homes — as they did with Margaret Durbin.
Durbin, now 101 years old, entered the military as a young woman. During World War II, she earned the title of Lieutenant Junior Grade while working as a decoder in the W.A.V.E.S. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), the women’s branch of the United States Navy Reserve. Durbin met her husband during an officer’s dance while stationed in Charleston, South Carolina.
“I was in communications and I worked in a code room in Charleston,” Durbin said in a recent interview. She and her husband would later serve in the U.S. military together in Washington, D.C.
“I started out as a teacher, but when the war broke out, I wrote a letter to ask to join the W.A.V.E.S., and then went to Smith [College] for officers candidate school. I wanted to help.”
Well into her retirement years in Colorado Springs, Durbin continued to serve at Fort Carson Air Force Base, rocking babies and serving in the nursery for military families.
For Durbin and her family, the veteran’s program at PPHPC has been a meaningful addition to her remarkable legacy.
“I’m so proud of my mother,” said Durbin’s daughter, Susan Mroch. “Back in 1943, it was remarkable for a young woman to give up everything and serve the country. It means so much that her service continues to be remembered and honored to this day.”
Learn more about We Honor Veterans at WeHonorVeterans.org.
Hear more of Margaret Durbin’s story in this PBS Learning video, recorded as part of the World War II Oral History Project.