These veterans are hoping the VA will have a change of heart this Veteran's Day

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Some South Carolina veterans and their families are hoping for a miracle on this Veterans Day, after learning the in-home care program they rely on, the Veterans Self-Directed Care program will end on Nov. 30.

It's a story we've been following after concerned veterans contacted us for help. After speaking with veterans in the program, Dorn VA, and the Lieutenant Governor's office, WIS' Ashleigh Holland is getting answers.

Doug Heim was just teenager when he enlisted in the Navy; he had just finished high school. Years later, he now lives in Chapin with his wife, Kitty. The 86-year-old is home-bound, disabled.

Kitty Heim has been pushing the program that gets him care in their home, and thus helps her out, to continue.

"I've really not been this emotional until today," she told WIS on Friday of Veteran's Day weekend. "I guess the realization is setting in, and not just for us but for everybody in this program. I mean, ugh. I just don't know what they're going to do."

She's gathered others impacted by the program's end. The VA says there are 66 who now can get in-home services through other programs.

"I can tell you which I'm happy to say, of every veteran evaluated, not one of these veterans will have to go into a nursing home. They will all be able to receive services in their homes unless they elect not to receive them," Medical Director David Omura says.  "And again, nine stated they don't need the program, they're actually doing very well."

But Heim says there will be fewer hours for help - four per day, split.

"Two hours is not even going to cover his bathroom use, his shower, and dressing," she says.

The decision to end the service came at budget-time. Omura says he's evaluated the program and those who used it - and thinks a transition is in order for more control over how it's being run.

"Where I can ensure that every veteran is receiving skilled oversight by a medical professional," he says.

Still, Heim says the program is working - and there are checks and balances, and procedures and paperwork she has to prove it. She wants minds to change now.

"These are not only people that served, but they're people that are in dire need. I mean, the longer you live, the more care you need," Heim says.

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