The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is looking to transition some of our local veterans from nursing homes into medical foster care homes.
The VA Medical Foster Program has five foster homes in Northwest Arkansas, and it just announced it’s ready to open up more homes in the River Valley.
The VA invited me inside the home of the Dorsey’s – a retired couple in Bella Vista – who foster three American heroes that are living out their golden years.
“Being here is like going to heaven without dying,” Tom Kibbler said.
Life for Tom Kibbler is pretty sweet.
“I just really like watching the birds fly around,” Kibbler said.
Under the same roof, lives Jan Dorsey.
Dorsey is a foster parent but her foster “kid” is a 77 year old United States Air Force veteran.
“It was nothing special,” Kibbler said. “It was just like any other job to me.”
Kibbler – enjoys relaxing.
But this was a far cry from five years ago when his family became scattered across the country, he had major health problems, and was severely underweight.
That’s when the Veteran Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville placed tom inside the Dorsey residence.
“He just fell into my lap when he came,” Dorsey said.
And it was a perfect match.
“He’s my best friend,” Dorsey said. “We have so much fun together. He has enriched our lives immensely.”
So much so, Dorsey decided to adopt two more veterans.
“All three of my veterans like it because this is exactly what they want so it fits in really well,” Dorsey said.
The almost $21 million dollar program caters to more than 1,000 vets in 42 states.
Each veteran pays $1,500 to $3,000 per month for around the clock individual care – saving the VA thousands of dollars.
However, for Tom the at home doctor visits and cooked meals are priceless
“In an institution or another setting, you wouldn’t be in the kitchen smelling the food and watching the food be prepared,” Dorsey said. “We like to cook together and he wouldn’t get that in a nursing home when a tray is brought to him.”
But Kibbler tells me Dorsey is the true hero.
“I know i keep saying the word family but he is our family,” Dorsey said. “There is really no difference between us.”
Serving her country runs in the caregiver’s veins.
“My dad served in World War II and he was a disabled veteran, so that is where my passion comes from,” Dorsey said
This former airman says he just needs a home base to watch the birds and a little sugar of course.
“It’s just natural,” Dorsey said. “I just feel like it was meant to be.”