It can be a struggle for some of Alaska's veterans to remain independent as they age. Now, advocates are trying to get the word out about a program that can help. The federally funded VOICE program is designed for those in the VA healthcare system who need extra care, but want to stay in their own homes. It helps the veteran hire a preferred caretaker, which sometimes means a family member.
Here is a story of how Southeast VOICE has changed this Veteran's life. From Connie D, Alaska.
"Bob was stationed in Los Alamos, NM after World War II. Bob and Connie went to the same church when she was in high school and married in Gustavus in 1989. Today the couple lives in Gustavus, surrounded by the friends and natural beauty that they love.
When Bob began to require constant care, Connie struggled to find the resources to support him. "We'd given up hope," says Connie. "We didn't want Bob to have to go into a nursing home, but we didn't know what else the VA could do for us. Then we were referred to SAIL." SAIL staff worked to enroll Bob in our new VOICE (Veteran Options for Independence, Choice and Empowerment) Program in partnership with the Alaska Veteran's Affairs designed for Veterans to direct their own care and help them stay in their own home.
Bob's case was promptly addressed, allowing for the couple to hire help from the community when they need it and stay in their home. One of their new employees is a friend who was already pitching in when Connie needed a break, and who also lives on a fixed income. "This enables her to do what she's already been doing and helps her financially. It helps her. It helps us. It's just a win-win for everybody," says Connie. "This is going to make a huge difference in our ability to stay in the home we love, where it's safe and beautiful and we have friends to support us. You gave us hope again."