Veterans Update Harold Ross, Wakulla County Veteran Services Officer

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Veterans Update

Harold Ross, Wakulla County Veteran Services Officer

January 2015
Veterans of Wakulla County, first of all I want to thank each and every one of you for your continued service to our county. As we progress through the holiday season into a New Year, change is abounding. In this offices strive to continue to provide the highest level of service to veterans; it is necessary that you as well as I stay abreast of new programs and services that become available through the Department of Veteran Affairs. Our Healthcare for the Homeless and Veterans Outreach is changing the lives of veterans in the county. Low income veteran families and homeless veterans now have a connection to the valued resources so many take for granted. I continue to urge veterans that are in the grips of financial peril, or in the midst of foreclosure, or simply in need of resources to improve what would otherwise be a seemingly hopeless situation, to come into the Wakulla County Veteran Services Office so we can discuss options and find those valued resources through connections with community partners and Veterans Outreach personnel. Taking care of veterans is my only priority.

Many spouses and dependents of disabled and deceased veterans have dreams of attending or returning to college. We want to help you turn your dreams into reality. The Scholarship for Children and Spouses of Deceased and Disabled Veterans provides qualifying spouses and dependents funding for tuition and registration fees at eligible postsecondary public institutions. If eligible, and you choose to attend an eligible private postsecondary institution, a fixed monetary award will be granted based on average enrollment and fee calculation for full–time attendance at a public postsecondary institution. Please be aware that the award for a private institution is comparable to that of a public post secondary institution. Please call or stop by the Veteran Services office for details.

The rich military lineage of Wakulla County runs wide and deep. The age range of our veteran population continues to rise and with that so does the need for long-term healthcare. Easily the cost of routine healthcare can easily outweigh the income of most families. Conversely the staggering cost of long term healthcare can demolish a family’s life savings. When the situation arises and long-term care is required, the difficult choice of a facility may lend itself burdensome in various ways. In an attempt to offer an alternative to long-term care facilities, and the emotional toll it creates on patients and families; the Department of Veteran Affairs has initiated a Medical Foster Home for Veterans program that has proven successful in trials across the country. Initiated in 1999 in Arkansas, the program has expanded nationwide. Most recently the program has taken root in the Gainesville/Ocala area here in Florida. The premise of this program is to place veterans that are in need of long-term care with an approved family. Chronically ill or disabled veterans that can no longer live independently that do not wish to reside in a nursing home will have a place to live and receive around the clock care in a nurturing family environment. The planned care systems can assist up to 3 eligible veterans. The care is provided in an unlicensed private home along with supportive services. The supportive services are provided by the VA’s Home Based Primary Care team (HBPC). The team consists of a Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nurse, Occupational Therapist, Recreational Therapist, Social Worker, Dietician, Pharmacist, and a Psychologist. The veteran will live in the home of the VA-approved caregiver with the expectation that the veteran will be integrated into the caregiver’s family and be able to age in place at the home. Please be aware that this program requires significant personal commitment and dedication from the Medical Foster Home caregiver. The veteran retains the choice of placement. The VA is intent on supporting both the caregiver’s commitment, and the veteran’s choice. The safety of the veteran and the environment in which he/she live is primary in this program. We want this program to provide a safe environment, the opportunity for the veteran to experience the highest level of quality of life we can provide, and to see that the veteran receives timely and consistent ongoing medical care. Both the homes and the caregivers are thoroughly assessed, appropriate documents are submitted, and the homes are inspected by the federal inspection team before the MFH is approved. Payment by the veteran to the caregiver is based on the level of care needed by the veteran. Funding for this program is via the veteran’s resources, but the veteran is assessed for any additional monetary VA benefits that he/she may qualify for, and then is assisted with appropriate applications.

Because the program is in its infancy in this area the need for qualified prospective caregivers that are willing to open their home to veterans are needed. We would be interested in talking with both prospective caregivers and with veterans who may be appropriate for this program! We would love to partner with you to address the ongoing needs of our Nation’s heroes. Please contact the Tallahassee Program Coordinator, Dynitia Brimm at 850-521-5780 or 850-521-5774.

Not to forget the veterans that are sick and shut-in, all of you remain in our prayers. The Eden Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center hosts a Men’s Day two Mondays a month. Please feel free to stop in and spend a little time with our resident veterans.

As Always it is an honor and a pleasure for me to serve the veterans families and citizens of Wakulla County. I am always willing to assist. Feel free to stop by and discuss any issues, questions, or concerns with me. Thank you to all the veterans that have paved the way, the veterans that I have fought for and beside, and the future veterans of Wakulla County. The Veteran Services Office is located at 3093 Crawfordville Highway, in the County Commission Complex. The office is open and ready to serve on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 8am-12pm, Tuesday and Thursday 1pm-5pm. You can also contact me at 850-926-1072 or e-mail

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