VA care at home, Veterans choose the medical foster home program instead of a nursing home



Elderly Veterans and Veterans who require around the clock care have numerous options available to them through VA. Annually, thousands of Veterans turn to VA for care, whether it in a community residential care center, adult family home, community living center or a community nursing home partner.

Most Veterans do not want to go in to an institution for their aging care, so VA has been working to expand its medical foster home program that allows caregivers to care for Veterans in their own home. It’s a win-win situation for both VA and the Veterans that chose the option, as they are able to receive personalized care in a home setting and it is less expensive than institutionalized care.

“Veterans love this program because it gives them an opportunity to be apart of a loving family,” said Beau Williams, one of the Medical Foster Home Program coordinators for the Tampa, Florida area.

Beau is charged with not only marketing the program and placing the Veterans in these loving homes, but also interviewing and approving the caregivers.

medical foster home program“I look for caregivers with not only the qualifications required, but most importantly that they have a good heart,” Williams said.

Many caregivers are already medically trained and VA provides classes and specialized training such as spinal cord injury care for their live-in patients. VA then sends home-based care specialists to the Veterans on a weekly basis for any additional assistance they require.

Caregiver Tammy Norton moved to Florida to care for her father through the VA Medical Foster Home Program. She also took in two additional Veterans, Clayton and Nat. Her father recently passed away, but she continues to care for her “new family,” as she put it.

The Veterans use their VA benefits to pay Tammy for the home based care, which includes everything from meals to bathing, but it’s so much more than that. The three go on outings together, attend church, even vacation together. They are a family.

Depending on the level of care required, some Veterans do miss the opportunities to socialize with others outside of their home that they may receive in a nursing home. VA organizes regular foster care socials where all foster home Veterans and their caregivers are invited to spend time together.

These ‘Vet-togethers’ are loved by not only the Veterans, but also the caregivers as it gives them a chance to learn from each other’s experience.

Make a Difference Day

Even though most of the Veterans in the foster home program are somewhat limited to their home, they are still involved with their community.

The Tampa VAMC Voluntary Services team saw the benefit of bringing community partners and the foster home Veterans together and organized the event in conjunction with Make a Difference Day.

Volunteers at the Tampa, Florida VAMC prepare gift bags for Veterans on Make a Difference Day

Volunteers at the Tampa, Florida VAMC prepare gift bags for Veterans on Make a Difference Day

Make a Difference Day is a national service day where volunteers look for opportunities to enrich the lives of others. The Hillsborough Bar Association has supplied and distributed the Veteran gift bags for the past four years.

“My father is Veteran so this is very near and dear to my heart. It’s amazing to see the love in those homes, so wonderful to give them a little bit a joy in their day,” said Kathy Gilbert of the Hillsborough Bar Association who has participated in this event for three years.

While many volunteers spend days gathering and creating the gift bags and strive to fulfill the Veteran’s wish lists, the most rewarding part are the home visits. The Veterans and foster care providers open their doors with wide eyes and giant smiles. They visit, laugh and enjoy the company of their new friends and visitors.

Clayton and Nat both showed off their rooms with pride, pointing to picture after picture. Nat has a picture of the iconic Mount Suribachi flag raising on Iwo Jima to honor his grandson who is in the U.S. Marine Corps. He also shared his experience flying over the island on his way to Japan.

veterans visiting

“You’ll find the Veterans greatly appreciate the support. I’ve heard them say that it is their home; it gives them an opportunity to be apart of a loving family,” said Tampa’s Beau Williams. “They are very happy with that.”

To learn more about the VA’s Medical Foster Home Program, visit this link on VA.gov.

Author

Tim Hudak

  joined the VA digital engagement team in December 2013. Tim, a Chicago-land native enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. As an intelligence analyst he deployed to Al Anbar province, Iraq with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 in 2006 and 2008. After the Marine Corps, Tim used the GI Bill to earn a degree in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., and co-founded the university’s first student Veteran organization. Tim is active in many Veteran organizations and enjoys wrestling his German shepherd, Capone (who wins more often than you would think).

Comments

  1. Donna L Graves    

    Bull!!! My Husband, Capitan George W. G. a 100% combat rated disabled Vietnam Veteran, (Blowup by a defective (thank God) Russian land mind in 1968) Granted Full Retirement because of his Honorable service and injuries, a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the Vietnam and United States Service Metals could NOT get the HandiCap improvement Grant he earned with Blood spilled in Service in Vietnam!!! After numerous attempts and denials, and while he was recovering from his first open heart surgery (which turned into Two) I took on this expense and fixed our small bathroom so I could get His wheelchair in and out of not only the door but the shower as well so I could bring him home from the hospital. We applied for reimbursement DENIED again!!! after his third open Heart surgery we applied again, we need Handrails because our hallway was to narrow for the wheel chair, again denied!!!on November 10th at 10;30pm my husband fell in the hallway and after two months of suffering in the hospital passed away on December 29th 2013.

    1. Kelly McCulley    

      Dear Donna, I am very sorry for your loss, and I am also sorry for your frustration. It sometimes seems like a soldier never gets to stop fighting. Thank you for protecting and serving him, and for fighting along side of him. I hope your heart soon heals knowing how grateful others are for the service you both provided. I wish it had been more simple for you both.

  2. lynn stanley    

    It is outrageous to see our veterans treated so poorly and yet our “wealthy” country spends billions sucking up to countries that dont even like us. We (the people) need to rise up and make our congressional body accountable for change NOW! We must not be silent anymore. As a “senior” myself I remind other seniors, we have given up our power. We are many. Speakout. Be heard. Join forces and make a difference. !!!!

  3. Robert Smith    

    I was very angry to read about the Chief of Staff at the VA Hospital in Muskogee Oklahoma being re assigned to another medical facility while the IG is reviewing hospital operations. I retired from the AF and DOE after 37 years of dedicated service. I was weary about signing up for VA medical due to several questionable reports about VA care. I moved to Oklahoma and started my retirement in 2002. After reviewing comments and visiting the VA Hospital in Muskogee OK, I signed up and was accepted for care. Since that time, I have always been treated with professionalism with expert medical care. I am very proud of this facility and have never experienced any problems since 2002. One of the many reasons is because of the vast service and management of the medical staff including Dr. Schneider. His dedication and leadership has played a significant role in the success of this hospital.
    Stop the political witch hunt and return the Chief of Staff to the job that he deserves and practices so well. Go Yellow Team!!

  4. Chuck    

    For sure, our countries leaders have their priorities in the wrong place. They have the benefits and money needed to take care
    of themselves and their families. Most of us do not as we get into our 70’s and 80’s. Giving money to foreign countries has
    not paid off, but our leaders have not learned, makes me think something else is going on here. Our Veterans deserve
    the BEST of treatment and all of that money that is donated to the countries that HATE OUR GUTS need to be taken
    away and given to care for Veterans. Lets redirect our funds to those that deserve it.

  5. V.M.C. [redacted]    

    I have a son whom just turned 50 years old and of whom served 6 years in the United States Air Force.

    My son had been in the Air Force for a few years when problems began developing. One minute he would receive outstanding reports as to his military bearing, flying ability, success in general. The next minute he would receive contradictory reports where nothing was getting done and that an Article 15 had been given.

    After six years in the Air Force, my son was discharged Honorably only to find out several years after that, that he, indeed, had a severe mental illness at the time he was in service. After about 8 grueling years of trying to get him a VA disability pension, he finally started to receive a VA disability pension. Prior to this time, he was homeless, had no income, and I, his mother, helped him in any way that I could.

    What most people do not know is that severely mentally ill people, all revert to drugs as a source of making the pain go away. This is a known, medical, psychiatric fact. This is what happened to my son. Consequently, he ended-up with End-Stage Cirrhosis of the Liver, Ascites, Hypertension, and the many, many other bodily complications which Cirrhosis of the Liver brings, namely, Encephalopathy (brain disease). He could die at anytime. He can no longer do the very simplest of things.

    About a year or two, I, his mother, filed for Aid & Attendance to include an upgrade in his disability pay citing Alcoholism, End-Stage Cirrhosis of the Liver and Encephalopathy were sedondary to his service-connected disability, all of which have been denied by the VA for the most utmost ignorant reasons. Everything in the world has been tried by the VA to keep him from getting anymore benefits. Now, because my son missed a VA Compensation & Pension exam February 4, 2016, the VA is going to cut-off his entire VA benefit package which would leave him with a mere $133 per month! All along, my son refuses any help from his family because he fears going into a nursing home. In addition to that, does everyone know that the law states a mentally ill person has to sign himself in, and out of anything he endeavors to do. This means that family members cannot neither request or apply for rehabilitation treatment, or intervene in any way. No doctors’ appointments can be made for him. Not even the simplest of things can be done for him. This is the law. Having a Power of Attorney is useless. The mentally ill person still has to sign himself in, or out. In accordance with the law, I, the mother, can only give birth and pre-plan and pre-pay for his funeral. If my son dies in a hospital, the hospital does not have to notify me. If my son is transferred to a different hospital at any given time, no one has to notify me. How barbaric is all of it? How can the very same people who promised to take care of you for your service have the inhumane audacity to cut-off all disability benefits just because you have no more brain to know one day from the next?

    Tell me, How can a severe mentally ill person whose entire life and time on this earth have been affected by those secondary complications of his primary service-connected disability, Bipolar II Severe Without Psychotic Features to include a Personality Disorder, be held Accountable for anything?

    This is our American Society? This is what our children fought for? These veterans are to be left penniless with no Aid & Attendance pay in which to get people to help clean their homes, do errands for them, cook, all because they themselves are on their death beds?

    What can be done with a society which is governed by judicial law and politicians? Somewhere, Somehow, Someone has got to help!

    Editor’s note: The original commenter’s full name has been redacted for publication by the Vantage Point staff to protect patient privacy.

  6. S.Gonzalez    

    My God I am so sorry for your loss .I myself am a 100%P&T disabled veteran I have applied and was denied several times and am trying to figure out how to go through that expense. Again mam very sorry for your loss.SG

  7. Armando Vazquez    

    Outstanding, this is a great news. I my self will like to do so, when my time comes. Thank U Armando

  8. ernest ledbetter    

    I was hurt in Vietnam and was turn down by va.when xrays show that I was hurt.politicaians are only for them and not the military.i am feed up with them saying we are for the military, bull.

  9. Jim Patten    

    The U.S. Government has never taken care of Veterans throughout our history. We have spent trillion’s of dollars waging war and a drop in the bucket, taking care of vets. We should establish a Veteran’s political war website, to vote in politicians that actually take care of vets. Our Department of Education is worthless. We should eliminate it and use the money for Veterans. Education should be administered by each state.

    We could still have an Education Committee in Congress, that implements regs and laws, but spending billions for government employees playing games on their computers or writing on Facebook is wasteful. The same holds true for every other department. Each major department, should get a budget of 10 million dollars and held to 20 employees to run each one.

    Having a simple Flat Tax that automatically deducts taxes from each pay check, will eliminate most of the IRS. The exception will be business taxes and monitoring ethical practices. In other words, having investigators, checking to ensure compliance. Anyone caught cheating goes to jail, pays a hefty fine and community service. Fines go to support the VA.

    Bank executives caught cheating (such as Libor Rigging), do long term sentences, lose all their personal assets and wealth, and the bank will continue on, being owned by all the people. These idiots were responsible for rigging trillion’s of dollars each day! No one has ever gone to jail! The billion dollar fines, should go to veteran support and the VA to hire competent doctors and build great medical facilities and services. After executive jail terms, they will spend the rest of their lives working as an employee of the VA for minimum wage.

    The exception would be Federal Lands and Parks.

  10. IVAN H.GRAHAMJR.    

    I AM A HOME FRONT VETERAN. I FIRST RECEIVED EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS THEN HOME BUYING BENEFITS. I AM NOW RECEIVING HOME CARE ASSISTANCE. MY WIFE IS MY HOME CARE GIVER. SHE IS ALSO IS A RETIRED R.N. I HAVE BEEN BLESSED MANY TIMES OVER AND HOPE MY FELLOW VETERANS CAN RECEIVE IN LIKE MANNER ALL THAT I HAVE. IT IS WHAT I CALL VETERAN HELPING VETERANS.

    I GIVE HIGH PRAISE TO ALL WHO WORK AT THE V.A.

    GOD BLESS YOU ALL

    IVAN SERVED 1959-1961

  11. Mary E Steffen    

    My father fought in WWII and has been unde the care of the Veterans for over 30 years. He is 97 years old.
    Three years ago, he was put into a guardianship in the state of Florida. The guardianship has accomplished stealing
    most of his money , savings, and health care has diminished since then. The VA has accepted this and refuse
    to help my father get out fro under the corrupted courts. Here is a man, that has asked nothing from our government
    other than the healthcare provided. He has been subjected to a low class so called assistant living facility.
    That cannot provide the requisite care, so it is paid for from his own money/savings.
    Where is the help, justice and his social worker when he needs it. Mary E Steffen

  12. L Henson    

    Why are Vietnam Veterans and their caregivers not allowed the same benefit of monthly caregiver stipends as do post-9/11 veterans (as per “Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010”)?

  13. richard b. mcnally sr.    

    I am legally blind and have a 50% service connected disability. I would like this home based care.what is the cost

    1. William Terry Gardiner    

      If You are legally blind and ONLY getting %50 disability then immediately have a VA Service Officer open an informal claim for SMC (Special Monthly Compension) Pay. Once You file the informal claim, that becomes the “effective date.” Get all of your
      evidence together and then file the “Formal claim.” When you win the claim the VA has to pay you RETRO pay back to the date you filed the informal claim. Ask to be rated at 100% and SMC pay. Your disability pay will be one HUGE retro check and then
      your monthly pay will also be extremely large. The VA has to award you all of this.

  14. Steven colten    

    What a crock. The Los Angeles glad is in such deplorable conditions over half the bathroom don’t work disabled veterano in wheel chairs can’t get in or 9ut of many toilets cause the electric doors don’t work.I have had to go from first to second floor just to get in to take a crap.Supposed to get home care, two year waiting list. I’M NOT GOING TO LAST THAT LONG.

  15. John Leo Buchanan    

    The link to further info at the end of the article doesn’t work? Please advise. Thanks

    1. Megan Moloney    

      We’ve updated that link for you.

  16. Paula Millican    

    My dad was dying of lung cancer he didn’t want to go to a nursing home or hospice. My brother and I took leaves from our jobs to take care of him. We filled out the paperwork to try and get us some caregiver pay. Needless to say, we haven’t heard anything yet and I’m not holding my breath. My dad and my husband are both vets and it’s ridiculous the hoops you have to jump thrrew to get nothing. Ridiculous and very sad.

  17. John    

    Great news. If the care keeps improving like this, veterans might get treated properly in a few years!

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