There are a lot of options to consider when it comes to choosing the best nursing home for Veterans. State Veterans Homes are one of those options, but what exactly are State Veterans Homes and why would a Veteran choose a State Veterans Home versus a traditional nursing home?
What are State Veterans Homes
State Veterans Homes provide services such as skilled nursing, long-term care and/or respite care to Veterans of the military. There are approximately 156 State Veterans Homes in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico, with more than 30,000 beds.
State Veterans Homes are managed by the state, not by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, they do work closely with the VA, including having to meet their regulations. State Veterans Homes represent more than 50 percent of the VA’s long-term care for Veterans, at a fraction of the cost and higher quality.
History of State Veterans Homes
When the Civil War ended, it left a massive number of disabled military Veterans who needed care and places to live. While there were a few national homes at the time for volunteer Union soldiers, they were unable to meet the need for care. As a result, concerned citizens came together to create “Old Soldiers’ Homes,” later becoming State Veterans Homes, to help those who had served their country. In 1864, the first State Veterans Home opened in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
In 1888, the U.S. government first made federal aid available to Veterans residing at the State Veterans Homes. They received approximately $100 per Veteran annually. Veteran care expanded again when the Veterans Administration was established in 1930, and the per diem payments increased. In 1952, the National Association of State Veterans Homes (NASVH), which advocates for Veteran care, was founded to promote legislation at the national level.
The next big moment in the history of state Veterans homes was the initiation of the State Home Construction Grant Program. This partnership between the VA and the States - initiated in 1964 - allows the construction or acquisition of nursing home, domiciliary and/or adult day care facilities, where the VA would provide up to 65 percent in cost assistance for the construction of new State homes, acquisition or renovations of existing state homes.
In 1986, the partnership between the NASVH and the VA grew: The two entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further their mutual goal of helping Veterans. Two years later, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation to create the Cabinet-level U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, replacing the previous Veterans Administration. That partnership continues today.
Are State Veterans Homes Run by the VA?
State Veterans Homes are not run through the VA, but they are considered partners with the VA in providing long-term care to Veterans.
State Veterans Homes have to be recognized and certified by the VA, and they are surveyed each year to make sure they continuously meet the VA’s standards through audits, inspections and reviews. Residents at State Veterans Homes may receive payments from the VA to help with the cost of care - such as a daily VA stipend - but the VA does not fund them.
VA regulations state 75 percent of beds at a State Veterans Home must be reserved for Veterans. However, non-Veteran spouses and Gold Star parents may be eligible to live at some State Veterans Homes.
State Veterans Homes' Eligibility Guidelines Vary. Find Out If You’re Eligible for Maine Veterans’ Homes
Why Choose a State Veterans Home?
The main difference between a State Veterans Home and a regular nursing home is the camaraderie among their residents. At State Veterans Homes, Veterans are surrounded by other Veterans. They’ve been there.
“That’s the beauty of State Veterans’ Homes,” Maine Veterans’ Homes CEO Kelley Kash says. “They share that culture, and they understand the medical and clinical and social needs of veterans better than community nursing homes would.”
History of State Veterans Homes in Maine
At the state level, Maine has six State Veterans Homes - which is a relatively high number of State Veterans Homes in one state - to serve more than 116,000 Mainer Veterans. Maine Veterans’ Homes operates all of the State Veterans Homes in Maine.
Maine Veteran’ Homes is a not-for-profit organization established in July 1977 by the 108th Maine Legislature. They opened their first location in Augusta in March 1983. Now, MVH also has locations in Bangor, Caribou, Machias, Scarborough and South Paris. In early 2021, they will open a new, state-of-the-art “small house” model nursing home in Augusta - the first of its kind in Maine.
Quality is Key at Maine Veterans’ Homes
Maine Veterans’ Homes’ locations are smaller than an average State Veterans Home, meaning more opportunities for their Veterans to get even more personalized care. All of their Homes have been named “Best in Class” among nursing homes in the nation for customer service, resident and family satisfaction.
“We stand out among State Veterans Homes for our quality,” Kash says.
While State Veterans Homes vary between the states, Maine Veterans Homes continuously demonstrates high acuity - among nursing homes across the nation, all six of their Homes have reached a silver rating, while one has reached gold. Silver is reserved for the top 5 percent of nursing homes in the nation, and their gold-rated Homes are two of 34 gold-rated nursing homes in the last 20 years. Both Maine Veterans' Homes - Machias and Maine Veterans' Homes - Scarborough have achieved gold status.
At Maine Veterans’ Homes, serving Veterans is part of everything they do; their culture is centered around Veterans, and they understand their Veterans’ medical and social needs. When on a tour, visitors will see Veteran-specific activities focusing on the camaraderie veterans have come to expect from Maine Veterans’ Homes.