A family of eight in Greenville, Indiana, welcomed three war heroes into their home. Although it may seem unusual to most, they are proud to help these disabled veterans feel loved and make sure they are cared for.
Army Sgt. William Sutton, 53, Sgt. Charles Hughes, 87, and Army Cpl. Robert Schellenberg, 89, were facing uncertain futures due to illness or injury. Because of this, they found themselves unable to live on their own or with family.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Foster Home Program has given 1,000 veterans the chance to live with families instead of a nursing home:
“Veterans living in this type of setting tend to thrive and often have fewer hospitalizations than those who are living alone or in institutional care,” says VA program coordinator Lori Paris. “This environment really enriches the lives of both the veterans and the remarkable caregivers who accept these veterans into their homes.”
Sarah and Troy Rufing both serve as caregivers to help the men bathe, get dressed, take their medications, and carry out daily activities. They even built a three-bedroom wing onto their home for these heroes to live in.
Each veteran also receives at-home visits from VA health-care professionals, including doctors, occupational therapists, and psychologists. The rest of their care falls to their foster caregivers who receive an average stipend of $2,400 a month per veteran and are on call 24 hours a day.
Troy and Sarah first became interested in the program in 2013 after Troy witnessed firsthand how rewarding the program was. His mother, Ruth, 76, joined the program in 2003 and has hosted 16 veterans over 15 years.
“It’s a family, and veterans feel like they’re at home, like they belong somewhere. We feel like we were meant to do this. And we plan to help for as long as we possibly can.”
According to The New York Times, the current law lets veterans use a private health care provider only if they can prove that they are required to travel 40 miles or more to a Veterans Affairs clinic. The administration hopes that this long-sought change will ensure vets get the care they need, on time.
“This is the most transformative piece of legislation since the G.I. Bill,” Robert Wilkie, the secretary of veterans affairs, told the Times. “It gets us on the road to becoming a 21st-century health care institution.”
Are you interested in fostering a disabled veteran? You can learn more on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Foster Home Program‘s website.