Opinion / Veterans News

Caring for America’s Heroes

VeteransOne of the benefits of military service in our country involves access to long term care benefits and services. This is particularly important to our aging veterans who so selflessly have defended our great nation over the years.

Following the Civil War, a large number of indigent and disabled veterans were no longer able to earn their own livelihood and needed care as well. While the Federal Government operated national homes for disabled union volunteer soldiers, the total number of veterans needing care was overwhelming, In recognition of this need, and the debt that a grateful nation owed its defenders, a number of states independently established State Veterans Homes to help care for those in their state who had borne the battle. The first State Veterans Home was established in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, in 1864. 

     Currently, there are 158 State Veterans Homes located in all 50 states, as well as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. With over 30,000 beds, State Veterans Homes provide over 7 million days of care per year. Each home is owned and operated by the state government, and they do receive additional funding from the federal government through the Veterans Administration. State Veterans Homes vary from state to state, but, in most cases, are the best quality and economical choice for a veteran needing long term care services. Each of the 50 states has its own admission criteria. Still, essentially, the veteran has to be honorably discharged from any branch of military service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard) and have a need for skilled nursing care. Some states also provide care to spouses and widows of veterans as well as Gold Star parents. 

     As “mission-driven” organizations, State Veterans Homes are able to meet the care needs of a variety of veterans. Whether its short term rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s or dementia care in a safe and secure environment or the pain management of an “end of life” palliative care, all State Veterans Home take pride in providing a place that any veteran can call home. Recognizing that military service is the foundation for the freedoms we enjoy today as Americans, caregivers at State Veterans Homes pride themselves in providing a safe, comfortable, home-like environment that offers a full array of services. Caring for veterans is a responsibility and duty for all Americans, and the employees at State Veterans Homes are those who are charged with repaying “that debt of honor.” State Veterans Homes are not your typical community nursing homes; they are unique places that have a distinct mission to serve those who have served our country. 

       Honorably discharged veterans are eligible to receive a Veterans Administration daily perdiem payment or $112.36 per day to be used for skilled nursing care. This benefit can only be used at one of the 158 State Veterans Homes in the United States. Veterans who have been rated as 70% or more service-connected disabled can also receive “no-cost” care at any State Veterans Home as well. Please note that the veteran in need of long term care must meet the admission criteria of the specific State Veterans Home. In order to find a State Veterans Home, please go to the website of the National Association of State Veterans Homes at www.nasvh.org. Once on their home page, you can utilize the “Find a State Home” tab to find a State Veterans Home close to where you live. The website offers specific information on each of the State Veterans Homes. If you know a veteran who requires skilled nursing care services, please take a moment to share this information with him or her. Our veterans put it all on the line with their personal sacrifice of military service. The State Veterans Home program is looking to care for those veterans who protected the freedoms we all enjoy today. 

Article Written by Fred Sganga Executive Director of Stony Brook NY State Veteran's Home

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