LeadingAge Magazine · July/August 2013 • Volume 03 • Number 04

Serving Veterans an Honor for Providers

May 23, 2013 | by Debra Wood, R.N.

Aging-services providers, both governmental and private, are honored to provide senior living, long-term care and home and community-based services to men and women who have served their country.

More than nine million U.S. military veterans age 65 or older live in this country, and like many people in that age group, they are tapping into senior living, long-term care and home and community-based services.

“It’s a blessing to take care of these warriors who paved the way for us,” says Delores Martin, RN, BSN, supervising clinical nurse of the Wellness Center at the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) in Gulfport, MS, and a military veteran. “If it wasn’t for their heroism and adeptness with the situations they went through, we might be looking at a different scenario today.”

About 1,100 former enlisted military service members call the AFRH home. AFRH, an independent federal agency, operates two campuses, one in Washington, D.C., and one in Gulfport.

“It gives the enlisted and warrant officers an opportunity to participate in a retirement home for military,” says Charles Dickerson, administrator of the AFRH in Gulfport, who adds that veterans’ needs are similar to those of other older adults. But “they like to be with each other, and living here gives them the ability to reminisce and find old friends.”

Dan Schoeps, director of purchased long-term care services and supports for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), agrees, saying that the care of veterans is not much different than other people of a similar age. The population includes more men than women, and young men and women from recent conflicts with traumatic brain injuries and other disabling traumas.

“By and large, when people—veterans and nonveterans—seek long-term care primarily for functional disabilities and significant cognitive impairment,” Schoeps says, “we focus more on function than on diagnosis.”
 

As a community dedicated to honoring senior citizens that have served their country or community, serving the residents of Air Force Village West, Riverside, CA, has a special meaning. To a person, each resident has known personal sacrifice and remembers friends and loved ones that have offered themselves when their nation called. Every Memorial Day our residents join the entire Southern California community in remembering fondly our friends and comrades now resting at the Riverside National Cemetery. Uniforms from another day are proudly worn, pictures of comrades are carried with fondness and flags are placed with dignity to mark the memory of every person that has given their last full measure in the service of this great nation.

 

Stories of World War II flights over Europe or operations at sea in the South Pacific are shared not only within the village but with wide eyed neighbors that listen amazed at the exploits of our heroes. Young men and women from all branches of the service now serving at March Air Reserve Base learn about their heritage through the stories shared by residents about Korean War deployments and Cold War intrigue. We all gain a clearer perspective about difficult times in Vietnam from those that actually endured and never forget the sacrifices made.

No one embraces the meaning of Memorial Day quite like a veteran that looks at our flag or listens to patriotic songs and remembers the personal stories they carry with them. The residents of Air Force Village West are proud of those stories and the friends that pulled them through the difficult times and laughed with them during the good times. They are proud of the family members that gave their lives meaning and provided love and a home to hold on to. And they are proud of our country that supported them and honors their efforts to keep us free and proud as well.

- Brig. Gen. James L. Melin, USAFR (retired), president/CEO, Air Force Village West

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey estimates 21.4 million veterans live in the country, 4.4 million aged 65 to 74, and 4.8 million aged 75 and older. About 1.8 million living veterans served during World War II (1941-1945) and 2.4 million served in the Korean War (1950-1953).

About one-third of veterans are enrolled in the VA and receive care at VA facilities, according to the We Honor Veterans program, a collaboration between the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the VA, which also reports that about 1,800 veterans die every year, with only four percent of them dying in VA communities. End of life represents a time when veterans’ needs may differ from nonveterans’.

“The things they are thinking about and reflecting on often deal with their time in service,” Schoeps explains. Participating community hospices keep that in mind and provide additional education to staff to prepare them to better serve the veteran. That may include asking patients if they ever served in the military and teaming up with a veteran volunteer.

“The majority of long-term services and supports we provide are in the home,” Schoeps says. “People want to stay at home as long as they can. VA is supportive of that.”

More than 112,000 veterans receive home and community-based services from the VA, about 23,000 from World War II, more than 16,000 from the Korean War and nearly 42,000 from the Vietnam era. During the last several years, the VA has experienced large increases in the use of home and community-based services, Schoeps says.

The VA provides domiciliary and nursing home care to 24,894 veterans, about 600 from World War II, 1,200 from Korea and 5,100 from the Vietnam era, although the period of service is not known for many of the veterans. The department contracts with about 25,000 community nursing homes. The VA has proposed a new contracting process set to go into effect later this year.

“That proposal will make the administrative relationship with the VA a simpler process and will, hopefully, make us a more desirable partner from the perspective of providers,” Schoeps says.
 

The Army Residence Community, a CCRC in San Antonio, TX, is home to more than 740 retired career military officers in all branches of the U. S. military service, their spouses, widows and widowers. ARC began operations in 1987 and over the years has added additional services and facilities to its range of offerings. Today it features 199 apartments, 247 cottages, 78 assisted living apartments, and a 91-bed nursing home with 18 dementia care beds.

 

Our community celebrated Memorial Day 2012 by watching French Consul General Frederick Bontems present the French Legion of Honor to retired U.S. Army Col. Edward Kerker. The Legion of Honor is the highest award the French government can bestow upon any foreign dignitary or allied soldier that helped France gain its freedom from Nazi tyranny. As an infantry officer, Kerker is also a combat veteran of Korea and Vietnam. Over his 33-plus years in the Army, he remains one of the most decorated officers living at the Army Residence Community. His awards and decorations are numerous, including the Silver Star and three Bronze Stars. Kerker is a very humble man and when asked what he felt about receiving such a prestigious award from the French government, all he could say was that he was proud to receive this award for his fellow soldiers of the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division that did not make it back.

Kerker, 93, has been a resident here since 1994. Until recently, he lived in his own independent living cottage. When the Army Residence Community opened up its new Mediterranean-style Lakeside Villas Assisted Living apartments, Kerker wanted to be one of the first residents to move in. Kerker remains very active in the community and still loves to work out in the fitness facility. The opportunity to converse with Kerker is well worth your time. He loves to read and can be seen at almost all Army Residence Community activities. His gentle, thoughtful and caring soul makes him a beloved figure here. As part of the “Greatest Generation,” Kerker is one of its finest ambassadors and we are proud to have him as one of our residents.

See this San Antonio Express-News article  covering the ceremony.

- Dave Fulbright, chief operating officer, Army Residence Community

Nearly 2,000 hospices participate in the We Honor Veterans program, which provides educational tools and resources to promote veteran-centric activities, increase organizations’ capacities to serve veterans, develop partnerships and improve access and quality. The program focuses on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgment as providers help veterans discuss their life stories and peaceful passing.

“Our staff has received special training to ensure that we're providing the best care possible to our veteran patients,” says the Rev. Angel-David Anglada, S.T.M., hospice spiritual counselor at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York’s Haven Hospice Specialty Care Unit at Bellevue Hospital, a level-two community partner in the program. “The first step in this process is recognizing those with prior military service.”

Clinicians learn to ask about military histories as part of the admission process and to address post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological needs, and remain cognizant about veteran culture and veterans’ tendencies toward stoicism. Each conflict has its own set of challenges.

By knowing when they served, providers can anticipate what some veterans’ needs might be—but should never generalize, says Susan Conceicao, director of psychosocial support at MJHS in New York, another level-2 We Honor Veterans partner. She adds that the hospice team helps create an atmosphere where veterans can express their feelings.

“The culture of stoicism may manifest itself by somebody being stoic about pain, but being attuned to some of these issues, it allows our clinicians to work in a different way,” Conceicao continues. “The knowledge of these phenomena is important to providing good end-of-life care.”

MJHS also collaborates with the VA.

“Getting involved in this sensitizes you and makes you proud to provide this level of care,” Conceicao says. “These are people who have served our country and there’s a feeling of wanting to honor that. For many veterans it’s an important sense of their identity and an accomplishment in their lives.”

Homelessness plagues thousands of veterans, 62,619 according to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development count in 2012. The VA has stepped up programs to help those already without safe shelter and those at risk and will spend $1.4 billion on specialized programs and $4.4 billion in health care for homeless vets in fiscal 2013. The VA reports the reasons vets become homeless vary but include poverty, lack of family and friend support, substance abuse, and mental health problems, which may develop after the trauma of their service.

“Veterans are overrepresented in the homeless population,” says Colleen Bain, vice president of Supportive Housing at National Church Residences (NCR) in Columbus, OH. “The experience of combat and military service can lead people to feel disenfranchised from their families. They may have difficulty adjusting upon return and that may lead to divorce, lack of employment and, ultimately, homelessness.”

That downward spiral takes about two years, she says. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are common. However, Bain reports a high level of motivation among veterans.

“Our approach is assertive engagement,” Bain says. “It takes a lot of time to build trust, but once we do that, we see remarkable improvement.”

Veterans represent 12% to 20% of the formerly homeless people receiving permanent supportive housing from NCR in its traditional facilities. Many are Vietnam-era veterans. But Bain also has begun seeing more veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Additionally, NCR operates, in partnership with the VA, the Commons at Livingston, a 50-bed facility solely serving veterans. NCR is in the process of expanding that residence to 100 beds and is working on two more veteran supportive-housing complexes in Atlanta and Toledo, Oh. The VA provides on-site staffing by social workers, a nurse practitioner and a vocational rehabilitation specialist.

“The important thing we see is the community created based on the shared experiences of military service,” Bain said. “It creates a community of healing and support.”

Bain reports support from veteran organizations, particularly serving holiday meals. Veterans also share their stories with the public, and many find it empowering.

Veterans can stay as long as they want, but once they reach a level of stability, many will move out to more independent settings in the community.

“We are making a dent in veterans’ homelessness,” Bain says. “It’s very rewarding. Veterans are a special group.”

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago offers multiple levels of housing for veterans, including Cooke’s Manor, a transitional housing program for veterans recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, and Bishop Goedert Residence, a senior housing facility with preference for veterans, both on the campus of the Edward Hines Jr., VA Hospital in Hines, IL, and developed in partnership with the VA.

Catholic Charities also operates the St. Leo Campus for Veterans, with a 141-bed supportive housing residence, a 14-bed residence for persons with disabilities, a community-based outpatient clinic run by the VA and a healing garden dedicated to veterans, in a neighborhood with a high proportion of homeless veterans. Forty of the veterans receive VA housing vouchers.

“It has become an icon in the community, and in partnership with other entities, has transitioned that neighborhood and changed the life of many veterans,” says Eileen Higgins, vice president of housing services at Catholic Charities.

Most of the veterans served in Vietnam, Desert Storm, or the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The organization and residents generate a patriotic atmosphere and celebrate holidays and other events with social programming, which includes cookouts, ceremonies, band concerts and a “battle of the branches” game day.

Many of the veterans have become healthier, repaired relationships and moved on with their lives.

“I find this an opportunity to honor people who went into the military as young persons ready to give their lives,” Higgins says. “Some returned after serving with energy, compassion and dignity and came into a situation not amenable to them, and life took a left turn. I enjoy watching them come back to that youthful energy and sense of dignity.”

All 50 states and Puerto Rico operate veterans’ homes, serving men and women now in need of long-term skilled or domiciliary-level care. The states provide the primary funding, with the VA contributing a per diem for each aide/attendant-qualified veteran. And the residents pay maintenance fees.

The Kansas Soldiers’ Home at Fort Dodge, which dates back to 1865, also offers memory care and 40 domiciliary cottages for veterans and their spouses. A contract physician provides medical care onsite. The Kansas Soldiers’ Home collaborates with veteran organizations in the community to honor veterans, particularly on holidays commemorating their sacrifice and service.

At any given time, 125 residents call the community home. Although it is licensed for more beds, Superintendent Web Roth, a Navy veteran, says domiciliary demand has fallen off. Many of today’s incoming veterans served in Vietnam and are living longer at home. For many, transitioning to long-term care represents their last move.

“I have the opportunity to serve people who didn’t know me, who served me before I came along,” Roth says. “We try to make this the most peaceful, loving environment we can. I like the interaction with our residents and families. This is a job where I can make a difference in the lives of the people we serve.”
 

At Patriots Colony at Williamsburg in Virginia, we serve the people that have served our country in so many ways that it would be impossible to count them. We have veterans who were the first women pilots and even trained other women pilots. We have veterans who have worked directly for presidents. We have had residents who helped start the NASA program and helped to choose astronauts. We have veterans who have almost every medal of honor that you could imagine. We have veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

 

The great thing about these veterans is that they still serve today. They volunteer for organizations like the Wounded Warriors, The Military Officers Association of America, Colonial Williamsburg, The College of William and Mary, Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Battlefields, the local soup kitchens and many other great organizations and causes. Our veterans have never stopped helping our country to be a better place and they have helped so many people that needed it, but could not help themselves. It is an honor and privilege to serve those who served and just keep on serving. They are a shining star of what is right about America and we can never thank them enough.

- Steve Hornsby, director of marketing, Patriots Colony at Williamsburg

Congress established the forerunner of the AFRH in 1851, making it the nation’s oldest retirement community for enlisted military veterans. Residents must be older than 60 and have served in the military for more than 20 years, or have served in a war theater and are unable to earn a livelihood because of a disability. About 77 percent are 75 or older, 52 percent 80 or older and four percent age 90 or older. More than 90 percent are men. The continuing care retirement community has a waiting list of about two years and anticipates greater demand as more baby boomers reach retirement.

“As we transition into the future, one challenge is to meet the needs and adapt the care for them,” Dickerson says. That includes more awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder.

Financial support of the home comes from a permanent trust fund, which receives a 50-cent per month payroll deduction from all active-duty military personnel, fines and forfeitures from the Armed Forces, and investment income (which has decreased as returns have declined in recent years). Residents also pay a user fee based on income. The Bureau of Public Debt provides accounting, property management and website services to the home.

“One problem we have always had is trying to get the word out about us,” Dickerson says. “People who have been out of the military for a while don’t think about us.”

Rules prohibit AFRH, as a federal agency, from advertising. Officials work with military organizations and participate in transition-assistance briefings. All residents must come in capable of living independently.

When Hurricane Katrina came barreling toward the Gulf Coast in 2005, AFRH leaders, most residents and their families thought they could ride out the storm, as they had in the past, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Winds turned two-by-fours protecting windows into projectiles, roof gravel swirled like missiles and water rushed into the building, carrying furniture in its wake. Staff carried about 18 long-term care residents up the stairs from the first to the third floor, and they placed residents on mattresses in an open area.

“The next morning, I walked out and everything was gone; quarters were taken down to the slab,” says Steven McManus, chief operating officer of AFRH. “Our goal was to get out as quickly as possible.”

Leaders hit the phones, making arrangements to transfer more than 400 residents to the home’s Washington, D.C., campus, and 10 of the most fragile to a nursing home in Jackson, MS, within 24 hours.

Martin, an air-evac reservist, accompanied 50 assisted-living and other residents in need of health care to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL, about eight hours away. She monitored them as they rested on cots in a gymnasium, assisted them to the bathrooms and with showers, and tended to their medical needs with the assistance of Air Force nurses and allied staff. Then she and an Air Force physician flew them to Andrews Air Force Base in Washington.

“Delores was critical to getting those residents to Maxwell and flown out of Maxwell,” McManus says. “I couldn’t be more proud of her. What a great American she is.”
 

Editor’s note: The Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs operates two long-term care communities: the Kansas Veterans’ Home in Winfield and the Kansas Soldiers’ Home in Fort Dodge.

There are over 13 million stories from our heroes who were in the military during World War II. Each veteran today, regardless of when they served, is special. Our World War II veterans alive today are more than special. Their stories should be told over and over and never forgotten. Their passion, commitment and contribution represent the legacy that lives on in today’s military personnel.

 

Karl Ray Marrs was born in Arkansas City, KS, and grew up on a farm just a few miles from his current residence at the Kansas Veterans’ Home in Winfield. Lt. Marrs is a World War II veteran who was inducted into active duty at age 17 in October 1941.

Marrs was learning to fly planes as a civilian, and Navy pilots were in such a demand that they took him regardless of his lack of training.

While in the military, Marrs traveled to various continents. “It changed my life dramatically. I grew up on a farm so travelling was new to me,” Marrs says. He has visited South America, Africa and Europe. As a Navy pilot, Marrs earned five air medals, three battle stars, and one Distinguished Flying Cross. “I am very proud of those awards,” he says.

After being discharged from the services, Marrs returned to work as a farmer. He had a dairy operation and a livestock operation. He then began writing a book.

I Was There When the Earth Stood Still is an autobiographical book of his journey that also includes many pictures and stories of his World War II encounters. Marrs wrote and self-published the book about 10 years ago for his children and grandchildren, so they could always have a piece of history.
Marrs and his wife were blessed with four children, 12 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Marrs’ wife passed away just short of their 60-year anniversary some years ago. In 2011 Marrs moved into the Kansas Veterans’ Home.

There are 141 State Veteran Homes across the 50 states that total more than 30,000 beds taking care of our veterans. Though each home and each state may be different, their mission is the same: “to ensure that each and every eligible U.S. veteran receives the benefits, services, long-term health care and respect which they have earned by their service and sacrifice.” You may locate a veteran home in your state with the help of the National Association of State Veterans Homes.

- Steve Dunkin, superintendent, Kansas Veterans’ Home

Fort Dodge, KS, was established in 1865 by Capt. Henry Pierce of the 11th Kansas Cavalry, by order of Major General Grenville M. Dodge. In 1890 it was converted to the Kansas Soldiers’ Home, and many of the original stone buildings are still in use today. Names of the streets and buildings honor great American presidents and military heroes, including Eisenhower, Nimitz, Sheridan, Garfield, Custer, Lincoln, Dewey and Walt.

Veterans of 11 wars have resided or currently reside at the Soldiers’ Home. Today, the Soldiers’ Home provides long-term skilled nursing care, Alzheimers’ and related dementia care, domiciliary care, and cottage living for more than 100 veterans plus some nonveterans. Staff at the Soldiers’ Home recognizes the continuous change in health care and embraces new opportunities to improve the quality of life for the veterans they serve.

- Web Roth, superintendent, Kansas Soldiers’ Home
 

AFRH brought in food and transferred the majority of residents to Washington by bus, stopping in Atlanta to rest and receive medical care. Meanwhile, at the AFRH-Washington campus, Dickerson, then based in D.C., and other staff and volunteers prepared rooms, including cleaning and opening a mothballed building, to receive the Gulfport residents.

Hundreds of volunteers, one assigned to each Gulfport resident, helped them acclimate to their new surroundings and stayed until the transferred people were ready for bed.

“That was a wonderful community outpouring from all over the D.C. area,” Dickerson says.

Within 24 hours, everyone was settled in the nation’s capital. Later, AFRH sent moving specialists to inventory and ship the residents’ belongings to Washington.

“Everyone pulled together to make sure things turned out well,” McManus says.

With mold taking hold, AFRH decided to tear down the existing Gulfport structure. Then the challenge became designing and building a new facility that could withstand a category-5 hurricane. The first program floor in the new building is 30 feet above ground level, with total-building generator power to cover seven days without refueling.

“We will defend in place if there is another hurricane,” McManus says. “It’s probably the safest place to be.”

As the building approached completion, AFRH officials determined who wanted to go back and flew them home. Those who had lived there the longest had their choice of room. Moving trucks were loaded so they could be offloaded sequentially. They also allowed other residents to move to Gulfport.

The new energy-efficient multi-tower complex features a full complement of amenities, dining, social, recreational and therapeutic activities; transportation; a swimming pool; hobby shops; a wellness center; a bank, a barber and beauty shop; bowling areas; a movie theater; a pub; a computer room and library; and a private walkway to the beach.

“We designed the center around programs and the flow of the resident,” Dickerson adds. “It’s a fully contained city.”
 

At Air Force Village in San Antonio, TX, a spirit of camaraderie sets this community apart. Residents share the bond of military service and they come here to celebrate life, honor tradition and respect the values that guide their lives as former military officers.

 

With more than 400 residents at Air Force Village I and more than 600 at Air Force Village II, the military history contained within these communities is legendary. We celebrate the heroism, sacrifice and patriotism year ‘round to keep the stories alive and to honor our residents, who represent all uniformed services.

Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day are among the most solemnly celebrated commemorations at Air Force Village. Residents from across the spectrum—independent living, assisted living, health care and memory care—participate in celebrations with the National Anthem, Old Glory, an invocation, patriotic music and inspirational words. This Memorial Day, at Air Force Village, Chief Master Sergeant Craig Recker, command chief for the 37th Training Wing, will be guest speaker and the Band of the West will perform.

After the celebrations, residents, staff and guests gather for a reception to continue sharing memories and stories. It’s a grand and wonderful day with laughter, tears and splendid camaraderie. Active duty friends from Lackland Air Force Base and Randolph Air Force Base often join in the festivities and always leave with their hearts touched by the stories of valor they hear and the relationships they forge with our residents.

- Eric Holman, director of marketing and sales, Air Force Village

While fees and payroll deductions partially fund enlisted service members’ retirement communities, not-for-profit communities for officers do not receive any government funding. Residents must pay to enter the community. Therefore, these organizations face the same challenges as CCRCs serving a civilian population.

The Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation supports Vinson Hall Retirement Community in McLean, VA, which provides independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing to officers who have honorably served in any of the uniformed services, such as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or Public Health Service, and upper-grade employees from the Department of Defense, Department of State, Foreign Service and Central Intelligence Agency and their spouses. Ninety percent are former officers, and 10 percent worked in one of the other institutions. More than 90 percent of Vinson Hall’s residents formerly lived within seven miles of the community, which offers a wide variety of amenities and services similar to any other CCRC.

Residents can take advantage of VA benefits but not all of them do. The Vinson Hall community offers a health and wellness clinic, staffed around the clock for residents in its independent living units, and many residents obtain their medical care there. Many continue to receive their specialty health care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center or other local medical centers.

As with most CCRCs, Vinson Hall is preparing for the future, working with acute care facilities to reduce readmissions and implementing electronic medical records with connectivity to the acute care providers caring for its residents.

The Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., typically invites residents of Vinson Hall to its events, and residents are often guests at local events on Veterans Day and Pearl Harbor Day. The community also holds special programs on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, the 4th of July and Pearl Harbor Day.
 

Retired Rear Admiral Rick Cueroni graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy and served 36 years in the Coast Guard, including 13 years at sea in ships ranging from patrol boats to the nation’s largest (at the time) icebreaker. He commanded four ships in the Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean and the Arctic, served overseas in Haiti and on every U.S. coast except the Great Lakes. As a flag officer, Cueroni served as superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy, commander of the 7th Coast Guard District in Miami, headed up the war on drugs in the Caribbean for two years and was chief of Coast Guard personnel and training for three years.

 

Since settling at Fleet Landing, Atlantic Beach, FL, Cueroni and his wife Beth feel fortunate to live among residents from all the military services as well as those from civilian backgrounds. “We felt as if we were returning home to be among friends, Cueroni says. “Once here we were surprised to see how energetic the residents are. The friendliness and enthusiasm is contagious and so we now count ourselves among the most active group of seniors with whom we have ever been”.

Like the 250 other military veterans served by Fleet Landing, these residents are honored by our Memorial Day Program, Military Officers Association of America program on military benefits, Independence Day celebration, The Military Ball and Veterans Day festivities.

Fleet Landing was founded in 1990 to serve retired military officers, and though it now welcomes residents from all walks of life, we honor the 250 veterans that we serve, in thanks for their selfless service to their country.

- Olivia Bush, director of charitable gift planning, Fleet Landing

Retired Rear Admiral Kathleen Martin, executive director and CEO of Vinson Hall, reports a camaraderie and bond among residents that sets the community apart from others. Each new resident is assigned a sponsor.

“The community is very welcoming,” Martin says. “It’s almost like being new to a command or moving into base housing. Everyone welcomes you. Our residents still have that sense of community that many of them had when they were in uniform and moving from place to place.”

Former officers often prefer living in a CCRC with that atmosphere and one that honors their service, she added. And it makes a wonderful place to work, serving one’s peers.

“I feel a very special connection to our residents,” Martin says. “I think I can relate to them because we have similar experiences and even a common military language. Our residents are a very proud and gracious group of seniors who cherish their country and the freedoms that they have fought or work for. I feel that we are one in spirit and have a special type of camaraderie.”

Editor's note: The July/August 2013 issue of LeadingAge magazine will feature an expanded version of this article, with a look at more providers who serve veterans.

The Army Distaff Foundation is an iconic institution that has, for over a half-century, given much back to our military men and women and family members who have done so much for our great nation. The Foundation owns and operates Knollwood, a residential and health care retirement community for retired military officers and their families.

 

Retired Vice Admiral James H. Doyle, Jr.’s needs for himself and his family were a perfect match to The Foundation’s mission to serve America’s aging veterans and their families.

During his 37 years of service, Doyle commanded three minesweepers, two destroyers, the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser Bainbridge, Attack Carrier Group Two and the Third Fleet. He also served as chief of the International Negotiations Division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was involved in the United Nations Law of the Sea negotiations. His last assignment was as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Surface Warfare.

Doyle and his wife moved into Knollwood in 2008. He was interested in a retirement community that could offer care for his wife Jeannette, who had Alzheimer’s disease, while allowing him to live under the same roof, with the confidence she would receive the professional loving care required, which continued until her passing in 2011.

It is to serve individuals such as Admiral Doyle that The Army Distaff Foundation values its mission of caring for the members of our national defense community.

- Michelle Maxberry, The Army Distaff Foundation and Knollwood