Monday, June 22, 2009

Little Known Veteran Benefit

By Amanda Laumeyer, B.S., Gerontology
American Veterans Care Coordination
Jeanne Mers and Dad
Pictured above is Jeanne Mers, R.N., B.S.N. pictured with her father Eugene Preiss, holding AVCC brochure that

There are an estimated 17 million veterans living today who served our country in a war time. These veterans have honored their families, our country and themselves by serving their country during a war period. As these veterans age they deal with many issues that affect older adults. This includes dealing with illness and long term care expenses.

For many of these veterans they are unaware of a program available to assist them with these issues. The Veterans Administration offers Aid & Attendance to veterans and their surviving spouses who are eligible, for assistance towards home care, nursing home or assisted living costs. There are over 1 million veterans who are eligible for this benefit and only 26% of the benefit is being used, leaving almost 800,000 veterans and even more surviving spouses eligible who are not receiving it.

Eugene Preiss, 79 of St. Louis was one of those veterans until a few years ago. In 1951 Mr. Preiss was drafted into the United States Army and served during the Korean Conflict. After serving in the military he went on to become a carpenter in the St. Louis area and is a retired member of the St. Louis Carpenters Union. He and his wife Darlene have lived in the St. Louis area most of their life and raised 3 daughters together. After retiring as a carpenter Mr. Preiss struggled with some health issues including congestive heart failure and aortic aneurysms. Like many older adults he turned to the support of his children for assistance. His youngest daughter Jeanne Mers, R.N., B.S.N. had been working as a Nurse Manager for a large home care provider.
"I found myself in a role worrying about my parents and having the difficulties of trying to meet their needs, my family's needs and manage a full time job," said Jeanne.

Jeanne had dealt with families and clients in similar situations and was frustrated with the lack of funding sources for non-medical care services. Most families that Jeanne had helped were in a crisis situation and need hourly care right away. Non-medical care services are usually paid for by clients out of pocket and can cost anywhere from $20 to $25 per hour. This includes assistance by a home care aid with dressing, bathing, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping and transportation. Medical insurance and Medicare do not cover hourly non-medical care and many families are not aware of this. Medicaid is available for those who qualify but is often limited in the amount of hourly care provided. "I found out about the Aid and Attendance program through the VA and discovered it was very confusing to navigate the system," said Jeanne about the beginning stages of applying her father.
After much research with the VA, Jeanne assisted her father with gathering information and the required documents for the application. Mr. Preiss was approved for benefits and could now use that monthly benefit to pay for home care services.
"I realized that if this funding is available for veterans and spouses to help pay for home care services, assisted living or nursing home costs then I want to educate more veterans and surviving spouses and home care companies about using the VA benefit as a funding source," said Jeanne.

Jeanne and her business partner Kyle Laramie decided to start American Veterans Care Coordination to help those who served and are in need of this assistance. With Kyle's long term care experience and Jeanne's nursing background they together bring over 35 years of healthcare experience to their company. They even included her father on the cover of their brochures which shows him and two of his fellow soldiers in Korea.
"I'm proud of Jeanne and that she is helping more vets like me," said Eugene. AVCC began helping families in Missouri and soon started helping veterans and surviving spouses across the United States. American Veterans Care Coordination provides home care services and assists in obtaining the VA benefit free of charge. Everyday Jeanne helps veterans like her dad get assistance, "My goal as a nurse is to create awareness and educate veterans and surviving spouses about this little known benefit."

About the author Amanda Laumeyer is the National Sales Director for American Veterans Care Coordination. AVCC provides assistance to veterans and surviving spouses in obtaining the Aid&Attendance benefit and providing them with home care services through a professional home care provider. If you are a veteran or surviving spouse in need of healthcare services please contact us.

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