The Case of the WWII Veteran
Deborah J Way MD, CMD, FAAHPM
Charles is a 93-year-old WWII veteran that has been in your outpatient practice for some time. He’s been in relatively good health, mostly he takes an occasional acetaminophen for some arthritis that bothers him. He no longer drives, and his children and grandchildren support his living alone in the apartment where he’s been since he retired from banking in his late 60’s. His wife died about 15 years ago.
Since you last saw him three months ago, he’s lost 15 pounds and when you check his blood count, he is very anemic. You are worried about malignancy and imaging shows a large abdominal mass. He tells you he doesn’t want any more workup and that he just wants to be comfortable. Additionally, he’s become so weak that he can no longer care for himself, even with his family’s help.
When you review his chart, you remember that he receives a pension from the VA for injuries he sustained during his service.
What can you do to help him?
The Veterans Health Administration provides benefits to enrolled veterans for just this kind of situation. Charles and his family have several options.
The first is application to receive care at one of Pennsylvania’s VHA Community Living Centers. There is a list of those here.
Altoona - James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center, 2907 Pleasant Valley Blvd., Altoona, PA 16602. 877-626-2500
Butler Healthcare, 353 North Duffy Road, Butler, PA 16001. 800-362-8262
Coatesville VAMC, 1400 Blackhorse Hill Road, Coatesville, PA 19320. 610-384-7711
Erie VAMC, 135 East 38th Street Boulevard, Erie, PA 16504. 814-868-8661
Lebanon VAMC, 1700 South Lincoln Avenue, Lebanon, PA 17042. 717-272-6621
Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center-Philadelphia VAMC, 3900 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104. 215-823-5800
H. J. Heinz VA Progressive Care Center, 1010 Delafield Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15240. 412-360-6000
Wilkes-Barre VAMC, 1111 East End Blvd., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711. 570-824-3521
The second option is application for Charles to receive care at a community facility that contracts care with the VA. The phone numbers above are the best ones to use to obtain information about those.
The third option is application to a State Veterans Home. State Veterans Homes are facilities that provide nursing home, domiciliary, or adult day care. They are owned, operated, and managed by state governments. They date back to the post-Civil War era when many states created them to provide shelter to homeless and disabled veterans.
To participate in the State Veterans Home program, VA must formally recognize and certify a facility as a State Veterans Home. VA then surveys all facilities each year to make sure they continue to meet VA standards.
VA does not manage State Veterans Homes.
Pennsylvania runs six veterans homes in Erie, Hollidaysburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, and Spring City. Honorably discharged Pennsylvania residents as well as their spouses may be eligible for admission.
Monthly payments are based on the veteran’s ability to pay.
The last option, which Charles can choose in addition to one of the previous options, is for him to enroll in hospice care. Every veteran is entitled to hospice care. Also, the veteran can elect funding through Medicare or other insurance, or the VA will fund hospice care.
Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent any policy or position of PAMED, PMDA, AMDA, its affiliates, and members.