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Program allows qualified families to adopt veterans at risk of going to nursing homes

By The Parthenon
On December 11, 2012

While many people try to give back to the ones who have given their service to our country, some local families are taking it a step further, opening their homes to veterans without a family, who are at risk of going to a nursing facility.

Bobby Keathley is a 79-year-old veteran who fought in the Korean War. Keathley is in the program and was adopted by Kim Pauley and her family. Keathley said he was living in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs home in Huntington and said he was in a bad place, suffering from alcoholism.

If it werent for this program Id be out in the weed patch drinking my wine and I wouldnt care if Id lived today or died tomorrow, Keathley said

Keathley said he had nothing to live for just a few months ago. He had lost touch with his family and was alone, but then he got into the Medical Foster Home program, which allows qualified families to adopt a veteran, who would otherwise be living in a nursing home.

Well, if it werent for this, I would have no place to sleep or nothing, Keathley said.

Kim Pauley is a qualified candidate for the Medical Foster Home Program. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs requires veterans in the program to be a qualified care provider. Medical Foster Homes require a trained caregiver on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pauley applied to be a foster family to a veteran and was matched up with the 79-year-old veteran. She helps Keathley perform day-to-day activities such as bathing, taking medication and getting dressed. Before working in the Medical Foster Home program, Pauley worked in the medical field and said she feels helping Keathley is her calling.

It makes me feel great, I feel like Im impacting him, Pauley said. Hes changed his life around hes really opened up to us and its just amazing to see where he was and where he is now.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Medical Foster Homes are not provided or paid for by VA. To be eligible for a Medical Foster Home the veteran needs to be enrolled in Home Based Primary Care. The charge for a Medical Foster Home runs from $1,500 to $3,000 based on the level of Its important, Pauley said. I am able to be there for them, a lot of these veterans didnt have love and for him to be in a family setting, it helps.

Pauley said Keathley has become part of her family. She said Keathley has bonded with her young children. Pauley said she got Keathley involved in their family church and was able to reunite him with his sister, who he has not seen in six years.

He has lost contact with his family, Pauley said. I was able to track her down in Kentucky and I took him down to visit with her. To see the smile on his face was something thats hard to put into words.

The VA has a check list of questions that potential candidates of the Medical Foster Home program should ask themselves; How much assistance do I need for my activities of daily living (e.g., bathing and getting dressed)? What are my caregivers needs? How much independence and privacy do I want? What sort of social interactions are important to me? How much can I afford to pay for care each month?
Keathley said his life has been turned around by the love of his new foster family. He said most notably hes quit using curse words.

This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, Keathley said. I cant talk bad around the kids. The wine, I gave it up and I joined a church, I have a different outlook on life.

If a veteran is interesting in seeking a Medical Foster Home the VA said they should contact their VA social worker and if a care provider is interested in opening up their home to a veteran they should contact the Huntington VA office at 304-429-6741.

The Parthenon can be contacted at parthenon@marshall.edu.

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