Elderly Veterans Are Taken In By Foster Families After Not Having Caregivers At Home
When Korean War veteran Stewart Breeding’s wife died died in 2016, he moved into a nursing home and figured he would spend the rest of his life alone. Since then, however, Stewart’s life has been changed for the better after he was taken in by Donna and Bennie Nolan, who have become his foster family!
The Nolans signed up to take part in the Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Foster Home Program, and they agreed to take Stewart in soon after he moved into the nursing home. The program has been hailed as a great alternative for veterans who don’t want to stay in a nursing home, and Stewart could not be happier with it.
“I want to live here with Donna and Bennie until the day I die,” he said. “I love everything about this family. It’s a great place to be.”
Launched in 2008, the program is now operating in 44 states with around 700 foster families looking after nearly 1,000 veterans. Dayna Cooper, director of home and community-based programs for VA, explained that each family can take in up to three veterans provided that they have enough room and meet the program’s guidelines.
“Veterans who enter the [fostering] program typically do so because they lack a strong family caregiver,” she said. “So we’re looking for individuals or families willing to take over that role and provide the care and assistance needed for them to remain in a community setting.”
Those interested in taking part as foster parents must get 80 hours of training and pass thorough background checks. Donna, 57, spent years volunteering at senior care homes, and she realized that she was perfect for this program as soon as she heard about it.
“It’s a wonderful way to make sure that they’re treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” she explained. “More than anything, we want them to feel that they belong here. Each of them has their own story and brings something new to our family.”
“I love my country, and I love our veterans,” Donna added. “It just seemed like a natural fit.”
The Nolans also take care of two other veterans, Larry Davis, 70, and Golden Asbury Dick, 73, each of whom served in the Vietnam War.
“It’s an honor to have them living with us,” said Bennie, a veteran of the Persian Gulf War himself. “Nurturing has always been a big part of my life, and Donna’s life, too.”
The Nolan family and their three veterans recently had a party to celebrate Stewart’s 86th birthday party. In the end, the Nolans are happy to have them, and the veterans are just as happy to be there.
“It beats a nursing home — that’s for sure,” Larry said.
Find out more about this program in the video below.