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Tomah VA to match veterans with foster homes

The Tomah VA will be the first VA in Wisconsin to offer foster homes for veterans who can't live alone anymore, but who aren't ready for a nursing home.

Through the Tomah VA's Medical Foster Home Program, caregivers will open their homes to up to three veterans. The caregivers will provide a room, food, 24/7 supervision, and transportation to medical appointment. Relatives cannot participate in the program.

Tomah VA's Medical Foster Home Coordinator Danielle Puccetti says a veteran will pay the caregiver directly, anywhere from $1500-$3000 monthly. "The veterans and the caregivers enter into an agreement between themselves. The VA doesn't fund any portion of this; we just provide the oversight and matching service."

It does not cost veterans to live in VA nursing homes, but Puccetti says some veterans still pay out of their own pockets to live elsewhere. She says this is a good alternative, especially "for veterans who have a serious, chronic debilitating condition that might render them in need of nursing home care, but they prefer to live in a non-institutional setting. It's much more homelike. They become part of the family as opposed to having a room in a large institution."

The number of veterans who can choose to live in a foster home depends on the number of caregivers that sign up and meet the VA's qualifications. Puccetti says she'll make monthly unannounced visits to the foster homes and will be on the lookout for abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

The VA's Medical Foster Home program started in 2000. Currently, there are about 670 veterans living in foster homes across the country.