When you hear the word “veteran,” several thoughts and feelings probably come to mind: defenders of democracy, heroes, and brave individuals who provide service to their country. But, veterans are far from a homogenous group. Veterans from several conflicts and wars are still alive today. It is estimated that 18 million veterans are living in the U.S. today.
There are veterans from World WarII, now in their 80s and 90s, Vietnam era veterans who are now in their 60’s and 70’s, and Iraq gulf war veterans. Indeed, something binds all of these soldiers together, but their experiences, although shared, are very individual. Home care can meet a veteran’s unique personal and emotional needs while fostering independence and providing the respect they deserve.
Stories of Veterans
Home care is more than assisting clients with activities of daily living. Of course, those tasks are critical to people’s recovery and function as they recuperate from illness, an accident, or are coping with chronic medical conditions. But, in-home caregivers bring something special to a veteran’s life- companionship and respect for their experience. Read some inspiring stories from our Home Care Assistance clients who are veterans:
Honoring Mr. Pacheco, WWII Vet
Mr. Pacheco is a veteran of WWII. He had first been a prisoner of war in Germany, where he was held in a camp there (and went down to 92 lbs while there), then returned home to California and was positioned as a prison guard for German soldiers at a prison camp in Vallejo. He said it was so strange to have everything reversed. His wife had saved the telegraphs informing her that he was missing in action, that he was found out to be a POW, and when he was returned to our military.
Items in his collection from wartimes include: the spoon/fork utensil which he says he used when he was a prisoner of war to eat his watery potato soup which he was given once a day. (He said the German prisoners who he guarded in Vallejo had much better fare!)
Larry's caregiver, Lisa, has worked with Larry for several years now. They even have a picture of her with Larry and his companion hanging in Larry's home from three years ago. Lisa loves to help with maintaining the garden near the house, feeding the cat "Samantha", along with meeting Larry's care needs. They have a very sweet and playful relationship from their long time together.
Honoring LeeAnn Sanchez, U.S. Marines
LeeAnn Sanchez is a long time client, whose husband was our primary client initially. Her husband has from Parkinson’s and LeeAnn was his primary caregiver. LeeAnn had some from mental health issues but was in great physical shape. It was not until she had a breakdown, and our caregiver drove her to the VA Hospital that we were able to learn more about LeeAnn’s past. Thankfully, our office has a contract with the VA Hospital and we are now able to provide care to LeeAnn directly thanks to the VA Homemaker & Home Health Aide program at the VA Hospital.
When began to ask LeeAnn about her service, she lit up and began sharing some of her life experiences while in the Marines.
LeeAnn grew up in El Toro, CA where there was a military base. Her older cousin was in The Marines and stationed in El Toro. When he came to visit her family for dinner, she remembers she,“...was just in awe of him.” Not only was she encouraged to also give back to her country because it was a brave thing to do, but also because, “...he looked so good in his uniform!” She wanted to wear a Marines uniform, so soon after she asked if they would take women in the Marines. She was soon signing the papers to enlist in The United States Marines.
LeeAnn was 19 years old when she decided to ship off to bootcamp, and then, for the next three years of her young life, she was stationed in Parris Island, South Carolina. LeeAnn served in the Woman Recruit Battalion - Platoon 4A. She had work experience and was assigned to the payroll department, but when asked about her best memories, she reminisced about all the fun she had with all the girls in her bunker. She said that they would take the train from South Carolina to Washington DC in their uniforms, “and drank lots of beer!” They lived in a big building, all girls, and they would clean the barracks every morning, she said, “It was so much fun!” She learned how to shoot an M-1 rifle, but still, the most memorable times were having fun with all the girls.
Honoring Joseph Sanguiliano, U.S. Army
Joseph Sanguiliano served in the US Army during the Korean War. He was stationed in Germany where he was appointed as a Sergeant. He has a great relationship with our caregiver, Ernestine King. He currently has some memory impairment, but this does not stop his sense of humor. During routine visits to his home, he always jokingly says,“I got to keep my eye on Ernestine and keep her busy.” Meanwhile, she is watching him and keeping him engaged.
They love to sit outside on the porch, eat ice cream and look around at the neighbors. Whenever she takes time off, he’s always asking for her and when she will return/ When she is not there, he often says,“this is not how Ernestine does things.” Their relationship is really sweet and very special to both of them.
Honoring Frank, WW II Veteran
Even at the “young” age of 98, Frank was enjoying a youthful lifestyle and deeply thriving. This was due largely in part to the heartfelt and dedicated care our caregiver, Merab, was able to provide him. Merab, who’s originally from the country of Georgia, is a caregiver like no other.
Merab began working with Frank full-time, seven days a week, and has continued to work with him nearly every day since starting. Through his encouragement of healthy foods, physical exercise, and social activity, Merab fosters our Balanced Care Method in everything he does, and helps keep Frank living a purposeful and active life. Merab is not only a caregiver to Frank, but also an advocate, friend, and a part of his family.
All of us at Home Care Assistance look forward to the bi-weekly photos and home videos Merab captures and shares with us. We’ve seen dozens of amazing videos of Frank and Merab smiling while traveling all around Wisconsin, and across the United States. Some of the highlights of Frank’s adventures with Merab include annual trips to Florida to enjoy the sun’s vitamin D and the company of Frank’s son, as well as leisurely trips to the shorelines of Door County, along with many other destinations.
Whether the two are at a wedding, fair, or around his hometown of Milwaukee, we all enjoy seeing Frank’s genuine smile in the moments Merab captures on camera. They never miss a chance to explore different cultures, music festivals, natural museums, and other landmarks around the U.S. Even with Frank’s limited mobility, Merab is constantly seeking more places to venture together.
One of Merab’s proudest moments was when he had the privilege of accompanying Frank to the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight in 2015 to honor Frank’s military service in WWII. Even though Merab and Frank had recently returned from an annual trip to Florida, Merab decided he was up for yet another cross-country trip with Frank to commemorate his service in the war. Merab woke up with Frank at 3am to make a 7am flight from Milwaukee to Washington D.C. where the pair saw many iconic sights including the World War II Memorial. On their return flight home, Frank was greeted with hand-written letters of appreciation as well as cheers from the Honor Flight homecoming event crowd! Frank had always wanted to take part in the Honor Flight, and because of Merab’s dedication and empathy, Frank was able to be honored for his heroic and noble service to our country with his favorite supporter by his side.
Seeing the positive influence Merab continues to make in Frank’s life makes us all at Home Care Assistance truly appreciate the service and care we get to provide to older adults. Merab is the true embodiment of what Home Care Assistance stands for and we are so proud and excited to see what else is in store for this amazing pair!
The Special Needs of Veterans
Many veterans have permanent physical and psychological disabilities from wartime injuries, and others have conditions resulting from aging. Home care services can help keep clients at home and out of more restrictive care facilities like nursing homes. Some of the other services personal home care aides can provide for veterans:
- Personal care assistance with bathing, dressing, and hygiene
- Shopping and cooking of nutritious meals
- Assistance with ambulation
- Transportation to medical appointments
- Companionship and emotional support to combat loneliness
- Relief and respite for family caregivers
- Medication reminders
- Monitoring and reporting on medical conditions
Veteran’s Programs that Help Pay for Care
The Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans offers veterans and their spouses programs to help pay for home care if they meet specific criteria. The bottom-line message? Apply! If you are the veteran's surviving spouse, you may also qualify for VA benefits to help pay for in-home care.
The VA Aid and Attendance program provides a monthly benefit to veterans who are homebound and need help with daily activities. This money can be used to pay for home care. Also, a veteran may qualify for the Veteran’s Pension program in addition to Aid and Attendance. The maximum amount a veteran can receive is based on several factors including income, assets, and disability.
VA Medical Foster Home program is another addition to the valuable resources provided to Veterans and their families. The Medical Foster Home program allows frail and medically compromised veterans to live in a residential home with other veterans. The VA medical system provides on-site care to meet the needs of veterans. There is a monthly charge for the program, but if you qualify for a VA pension or Aid and Attendance, you can use those funds to offset the cost and pay for needed home care.
The VA Service-Connected Disability program provides a monthly payment to veterans who were injured or got sick during their military service. It is also possible to qualify if you became disabled after your active duty related to your service.
Patience with the Process
Applying for veteran’s benefits to pay for home care will take patience. Amy Goyer of AARP has some great tips on navigating the system because she did it for her father. While you are investigating and waiting for benefits to come through, don’t hesitate to start home care since some of these programs will pay a lump sum retroactively if you qualify. The important thing is to get a veteran the help they need.
Home Care for Veterans
Everyone who receives home care has individual, particular needs. Veterans have paid the ultimate price by serving their country and, in the process, have often incurred lifelong injury, psychological trauma, and disability. Home care caregivers offer the unique ability to provide a safety net of comfort, respect, and care. Through VA sponsored programs, families and their loved ones can get the care they deserve.