Veterans should expect their services

Ohio veterans should be able to expect the state Department of Veterans Services will fulfill its responsibilities to those who gave up so much for our country. Yet more than 160 veterans are on waiting lists for the state’s two nursing homes for veterans, in Georgetown and Sandusky.

Nearly a year ago, the Ohio Department of Veterans Services rightly decided to stop accepting new residents because of safety concerns in the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, despite the agency reducing entry points to the facilities, adding screenings for everyone who enters, improving air flow and reconfiguring some parts of the facilities — among other measures — the facilities have seen a combined 239 cases of the virus, leading to 61 deaths.

It is understandable then, that administrators would be cautious, and feel the need to run the facilities below capacity as they faced this challenge. But Jeff Rapp, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, says the facilities are both now COVID-19 free, and nearly all residents have had at least their first dose of the vaccine.

According to Rapp, Veterans Services is now considering resuming new admissions. They should get past considering, and quickly develop a plan to resume admissions. Of course that will involve more work.

“I don’t think this is going to be as simple as one day they just say, ‘OK, everything’s open back up, said state Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg, who is chairman of the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committee. “They want to be sure that there’s a plan that has checks and balances and accountability so that we can continue to take care of our men and women that have given so much to this nation.”

Fine. Then let’s get to it.

“The fact that there is a virus does not change the fact that veterans and seniors need to live their lives in a way that would optimize their quality of life,” said Jay Wynne, son of a 98-year-old World War II Army Air Corps veteran who is due to be released soon from a skilled nursing facility, but can’t go back to living on his own at home. The elder Wynne has also already had both COVID-19 vaccine shots.

Imagine the emotional and financial burden on veterans and families like the Wynnes if these facilities do not safely reopen soon.


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