MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – For the first time ever, military veterans that are living in state-run nursing homes will be a charged.
For the past 50 years, veterans in Milledgeville and Augusta have been staying in the Georgia State War Veterans homes rent-free. But next month, that will all change.
The new payments are the product of looming state and national budget issues. Governor Nathan Deal signed in a law that requires state veterans' homes to charge a fee. In the past, the state has covered the cost.
"Every other state in the United States charges veterans for their care," said Ernie Simons, Georgia Department of Veterans Services, Director of Health and Memorials Division.
Residents will now be charged $682 a month. The money is expected to come from veterans Aid and Attendance benefits that they receive from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs'. The changes will start February. Simons believes the amount is reasonable and in the past, residents were able to pocket the benefits.
"This is extra money for them to do as they please," Simons said.
But everyone is not pleased about the changes. Barbara Kersey's husband lives at the Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville. She feels it's a slap in the face to charge soldiers for care.
"They bled and suffered for this country to keep it free," Kersey said.
Bill Stapleton, who lives at the home, plans to readjust his finances for the new fees. But admits it won't be easy. Stapleton said he'd be lost without the facility in Milledgeville.
"I don't know where I'd be," Stapleton said, "and I'd have to get a tent and live in a tent like when I was in the service."