Omaha, NE- Tom Goodwin loves his country. He served in the army for four years.
As he started to age, he needed more help for care. Tom found himself depressed, in a nursing home, and unhappy.
He fought for our country. Now, he does not have to worry about how he will battle any health problems. Thanks to a little-known program to foster our nation's veterans.
Originally implemented by two VA social workers in Little Rock, Ark., the Medical Foster Home (MFH) program provides a lifestyle alternative to nursing homes for a segment of the Veteran population that may be looking for more independence or more personalized care.
Anyone who fosters a veteran can make between $1400 and $3,000 a month, depending upon the level of care provided. Doing so requires taking a veteran into your home and agreeing to unscheduled inspections.
Theresa and Brian MacGrander love their country. Four years ago they wanted to enter the program. Theresa was already a certified nurse and a medic. Brian had to undergo training.
"They sacrifice so much. If we can't take care of them, don't ask them to fight for us," Theresa said.
For four years, Tom Goodwin has been in their home. They get visits from addition medical staff with the VA, like a nutritionist. It's been a gratifying experience for all parties.
"Tom is part of our family now," Theresa said.
"I think it's the greatest thing there is, to tell you the truth. I am pretty lucky, I am," Tom said.
Problem is, of the 44 states participating in the program Nebraska fares the worst. Theresa is the only caregiver.
"We haven't been recruiting veterans, but without even spreading the word, I get two to three phone calls a week," said Lori Berkland-Jones, Medical Foster Home Coordinator for Nebraska.
Berkland-Jones used to head up medical foster home program for Florida.
"I've seen what it can do. I hope it grows here," she said.
Berkland-Jones says little knowledge about the program plus a vacant coordinator position could be reasons for the lack of caregivers. She says they have a few prospective caregivers are in the pipeline. But with the long process of vetting caregivers, Theresa MaCrander worries what that means for other veterans in the state.
"They fought for our freedom. And I think they deserve a better life than a nursing home," she said.
For more information on how to become a caregiver, log onto http://www.nebraska.va.gov/services/Medical_Foster_Home_Program.asp.