Honoring veterans fits former Air Force medical tech perfectly

Christine Tate Image from Senior Life Newspaper
Christine Tate helps veterans through St. Francis Reflections Lifestage Care.

Confucius supposedly once noted that if you choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. If that is true, Christine Tate hasn’t worked in years.

“I love what I do,” said Tate, the community engagement and veteran outreach coordinator for St. Francis Reflections Lifestage Care.

Tate’s job entails honoring and helping veterans, be they hospice patients or not. She started on the job this February, after 12 years of serving St. Francis as an admissions nurse.

She does her job extremely well, for the Reflections’ We Honor Veterans program has for a second time earned Level V — the highest achievement — from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, which created the national program to celebrate the service of military men and women.

Although her duties with We Honor Veterans have proven to be a challenge due to significant pandemic-related restrictions at local retirement and assisted living communities, Tate thinks outside the box to continue serving.

“We found ways to continue connecting,” said the St. Louis, Missouri native.

During her tenure as a nurse, she became adept at scheduling Zoom meetings between hospice patients and family members. Because she is a registered nurse, she is granted access to nursing homes and senior communities, COVID uptick or not. At Town Square senior community in Viera, for example, she orchestrated the installation of a Wall of Honor for resident veterans. The wall is one of several in the county.

“We help make these walls unique for each facility,” she said.

She is sometimes one of the last persons a veteran will see on this earth, as she holds the hands of hospice patients and talks to them, thanking them for their service.

She also organizes vet-to-vet cafes to help hospice patients connect with other veterans over breakfast or lunch. Part of her job includes alerting veterans of the benefits to which they are entitled. The cafes offer an informal opportunity for one-on-one education.

Tate’s “Patriotic Bingo” sessions also provide a fun channel for communicating about benefits.

“Some don’t even know they are entitled to benefits,” she said.

The daughter of an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, Tate spent 12 years with the Air Force as a medical technician. The GI Bill allowed her to earn her LPN and RN degrees.

With her former husband, a flight nurse, Tate moved to Titusville, even though neither of them had connections in the area.

“God took us there,” she said.

She soon met the late George Taylor of the National Veterans Homeless Support and began volunteering at stand downs for homeless vets.

In 2009, she joined Hospice of St. Francis, where just under a third of patients under hospice care are veterans.

Her passion for helping veterans steered her to Honor Flight, where she now currently serves as fundraiser. She also chairs the Women’s Veterans Council at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center.

“I have such an amazing job,” she said.

AUTHOR: MARIA SONNENBERG; Source: Senior Life Newspaper

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