SPRING CITY – Reps. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) and Tim Hennessey (R-Chester/Montgomery), as well as other members of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness and Aging and Older Adult Services committees, met to discuss programs and assistance available for the Commonwealth’s aging veteran population.
During the hearing, testifiers focused on the need to invest state dollars wisely into programs that will benefit Pennsylvania’s veterans and the state’s budget.
“Some of the best dollars we spend at the state level are for Act 66. Our veterans and their families have earned our support, and the program enables us to better serve them,” Barrar said.
Act 66 of 2007 provides for a state grant program to assist veterans service organizations with veterans outreach programs.
Every $1 that the Commonwealth invests in our veterans results in $35 for Pennsylvania in federal funding and saved Medicare costs, testified Maj. Gen (USAF) Eric Weller, Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans Affairs for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
“In just two years, it’s anticipated that a quarter of Pennsylvanians will be age 60 or older. Obviously, our veteran population will be aging too, and that requires our attention. We should be considering now how best to serve them when they need their programs,” Hennessey said.
Teresa Osborne, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, talked about a pilot program that provides a budget for veterans to spend as they wish on their care: on a caregiver in the veteran’s home, for care provided in the caregiver’s home or an assisted living facility. The money can also be used to compensate a relative for the care he or she provides.
Throughout the hearing, the need for partnerships to disseminate important information to veterans was emphasized. Bruce Foster, department service officer for the Pennsylvania American Legion, noted that it’s common for veterans’ pension payments to jump $1,000 a month after veterans speak with a veterans’ service officer (VSO) who connects the veteran with the programs that apply to him or her.
“When VSOs, AAA, Apprise offices, county offices, American Legions, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the state can work together, veterans have the best chance of finding out about the programs available to them, programs that can make a real difference in their lives,” Barrar concluded.
Representative Stephen E. Barrar
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans