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The vets homes are attractive to people seeking long-term nursing care. There is an active waiting list of more than 1,000 people for the 790 beds available in the five homes, and another inactive waiting list of about 1,000. About 750 people are on the waiting list for the Minneapolis home and about 60 of those are spouses.
One group argues that veterans and spouses who don’t qualify for the extensive federal benefits are exactly those who should be allowed to apply on equal footing to the nursing homes.
What are the priorities?
“I know of no human service program where people with the most resources get put at the front of the line for limited resources,” said Milt Schoen, Hennepin County’s veterans services director and legislative director for the Minnesota Association of County Veterans Service Officers.
Mike Ash, state commander of the Minnesota American Legion, said the proposal would likely mean there won’t be enough spaces for spouses after the slots are filled with those having priority.
“The spouses put as much effort forth as we have,” Ash said. “It’s true we have to get shot at; they’ve got to stay home all by themselves with a whole set of problems they never counted on. We put a high premium on spouses.”
Ash said the American Legion and other veteran groups are gearing up for an aggressive e-mail campaign and for directly lobbying individual state legislators.
“When you decide to go against us, hopefully you recognize that if it’s a year you are getting voted up or down, you might want to think about it,” Ash said. “When legislation like this comes up we need to let them know directly that we are 100 percent against it and we won’t take anything but shooting the bill down totally.”
Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434