VA program facing cuts to remain open - - Columbia, South Carolina |

VA program facing cuts to remain open

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A program fully funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs that was facing drastic cuts and even full closure by Monday will remain open, according to state officials.

According to authorities, a meeting between the Lt. Governor's Office on Aging and VA officials on Wednesday led to the VA pledging to find a way to continue the Veteran Directed Home and Community Based Services program.

The program, offered on a pilot basis in Columbia and Charleston, allows veterans to stay at home and get care versus having to be placed in a care home.

In South Carolina, the VA pays an average of $7,000 a month to keep a veteran in a nursing home, while the in-home program averages $1,800 a month.

Officials from the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia and Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston both showed a commitment to the program in the meeting, citing the 98,000 veterans in South Carolina.

It's obvious Karen Sonnefeld feels there's value in the program. Her husband, Dave Sonnefeld, was a beneficiary of it. Those who knew Dave know how much he loved golf, almost as much as he loved helping others.

"He was tireless in his effort to help people, right up to the end," said Karen. "Right up to the end."

Dave passed away last Thursday in the midst of the fight to save the program that allowed him to remain at home, like he wanted.

"I think maybe I'm the spokesperson for a lot of people who are in this situation, but maybe they just don't know where to go or how to go about getting some help," said Karen. "I didn't know either."

Karen will remain a strong advocate, knowing it made all the difference for her husband of more than 50 years.

"Those guys want their family around them, they want to see them, and as much as those kids cried, I said he was so thankful to have them in his life and to be able to keep them in his life to the very last, very last," said Karen.

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