Regarding veterans benefits and services in this valley,we most often think of those provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). The smattering of state veterans benefits are hardly given a thought. Admittedly, for the average veteran they are nonexistent.
However, veterans and their families sometimes forget that county-level human services resources do exist which might be useful to them. After all, Pennsylvania state government depends upon its counties to deliver the majority of its organized, social services. Unfortunately counties are generally inexpert at marketing or advertising the value of their Department of Human Services services to veterans and their families
Yet, to know of these resources is important, even for those receiving VA or DoD veterans benefits. For example, since just over 55% of the approximate 38,000 veterans now living in the Lehigh Valley are 65 or older in years, many veterans might want to consider contacting their Department of Human Services for an assessment of what “aging” services are available to them.
It is particularly relevant topic as we continue to wait for the VA to expand its caregiver program as demanded of it by the Mission Act of 2018. While a caregiving need exists among veterans of the Vietnam era, the VA has yet to implement the new requirement, as of this writing. Meanwhile, county care managers are already capable of developing care plans to address the individual needs, using government and other community resources, with an emphasis on allowing the client to remain living independently in his/her own home. And they are capable of coming to a veteran’s residence.
In addition to encouraging the completion of a living will and a Power of Attorney, a full assessment entails noting health conditions, cognitive ability, economic status, support systems currently in place, housing status, and mobility and transportation needs. This information helps determine eligibility for benefits and available programs and services to keep the individual in the community.
County aging agencies have a wide variety of programs and services at their disposal to provide care and support to Lehigh and Northampton county’s elderly population. Assistance is provided in applying for programs such as: PACE, Property Tax/Rent Rebate, City garbage fee exoneration, LANtaVan transportation services, medical assistance, and subsidized housing. The assessment also determines eligibility for formal services such as Adult Day Care, Homemaker/Home Support Services for laundry and shopping, arranging for Meals on Wheels and transportation to medical appointments for those older adults who require these services. Assistance with placement into a Skilled Nursing Facility or Assisted Living Facility is also available, if necessary.
For more information go to:
Lehigh County: https://www.lehighcounty.org/Departments/Human-Services/Aging-and-Adult-Services/Programs
Northampton County: https://www.northamptoncounty.org/HS/AGING/Pages/Services.aspx
As of 8 September 2019