September 21, 2012
Re: “Reaching veterans” (What Others Say, Sept. 17).
I join the author of Monday’s editorial in congratulating the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs for the recent outreach campaign aimed at informing veterans of their benefits. The editorial mentioned several of the wonderful benefits our veterans are entitled to but failed to highlight what I believe to be Florida’s best-kept secret — the state’s veterans assisted-living and nursing homes.
Although I never served my country through the armed services, my father, Lt. Louis Adams, did. Born in 1928, he was a child of the Great Depression and, like so many of his generation, he fiercely loved his country. At 17 years old, while World War II was raging, he answered his country’s plea of “Who will go?” with a resounding “Send me” and served in the United States Army Air Forces. During his career, he served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He later served in the Florida Air National Guard. He was a soldier and a gentleman and willing to put his life on the line for our country’s freedom.
In 2009, my father turned 81 and experienced several devastating falls. It soon became evident that this incredibly independent and capable man needed help. After researching his options and learning of the astounding cost of assisted living and nursing home care, I discovered that the state of Florida offered another option — one assisted-living home and six veterans’ nursing homes. I could tell from the moment I walked through their doors that these facilities were special.
As you might imagine, moving to any long-term care facility is a great trauma for both the resident and his loved ones. The only thing that could soften the blow was knowing that my father was surrounded by experienced, loving and professional staff in a top-notch facility, the Robert Jenkins Jr. Assisted Living Home in Lake City. I was also encouraged that he was again among his own — soldiers who loved their country.
In 2010, my father fell again and needed a greater level of care. He moved to the Clifford Chester Sims Veterans’ Nursing Home in Panama City. Within months, he moved to Delta Blue on the dementia wing. He and I held hands through that tumultuous journey, and although he did not know who I was when he took his last breath on Aug. 4, it comforted me to know that he had been well taken care of and genuinely loved. In fact, a steady stream of staff trickled through his last two days and silently said their goodbyes. Not only had they treated him with the respect that is befitting of our nation’s veterans, they had cared for him as if he was their own, and for that I will be forever grateful.
I know my story is not unique. There are thousands of veterans and their families that take advantage of this wonderful benefit every day.
I am encouraged that the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs is reaching out across multiple platforms that will not only reach new generations of veterans, but also the people of my generation who have family members or know of veterans like my dad who could use their services.
Our veterans deserve our best, and it can be found in the seven state facilities every day. On behalf of my father and his grateful family, thank you to all who serve there. You are making a difference.
A resident of Tallahassee since 2005, Lynne Adams Takacs is the proud mother of two boys and the marketing director at LLT Building Corp.
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