Veterans Affairs brings new foster home program to Horry County; caregivers wanted

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A Veterans Affairs program that offers veterans home-based care is now in Horry County.

The program was already offered in Columbia and Charleston before making its way to Conway, according to VA officials.

The Medical Foster Home Program places veterans in the homes of qualified caregivers who can provide around-the-clock and personalized care. Erica Gerring, program coordinator, said the foster home program offers veterans a family feel.

“It gives the veteran that family environment, and it allows the caregivers to give back to those that have served,” Gerring said.

Veterans Affairs said caregivers must own or rent their home and be within 50 miles of Conway. Applicants must also be financially stable, 21 years old and have formal or informal experience providing patient care.

Gerring encourages people interested in becoming caregivers to call 843-637-7321.

“We do a brief telephone screen, and we do a follow up phone call with mailing out some additional information,” Gerring said. “Then we do a face to face with a potential caregiver. [We] take a look at the caregiver as well as talk to them. [We] get to know them more in depth and then go through the application process if they’re still interested.”

Gerring said her office is looking for as many care providers as it can get. She makes sure caregivers and veterans are a good fit for one another before finalizing the decision.

“We do match the veterans to the caregivers,” Gerring said. “We want this to be a good fit for everybody, and this becomes the home where the veteran stays.”

Gerring said the VA also sits down several times with veterans to go over all of the details.

“We do talk with the veteran at length [to] explain the program,” Gerring said. “We can speak with them multiple times the same way we do with caregivers and help ensure that they can afford the program as well.”

Jaime Lleras served in the United States Air Force for 29 years. Now, Lleras serves as commander of Chapter 30 of the Disabled American Veterans in Myrtle Beach. He said the program is a great alternative to a nursing home.

“It’s an excellent program that the VA came up with as an alternative to nursing home care because there are not too many veteran homes in our area,” Lleras said. “There’s only three in South Carolina.”

Lleras thinks the program will do well in the region because of the amount of support he sees community members give veterans.

“This area in Myrtle Beach, in the Grand Strand, is totally supportive of veterans,” Lleras said. “It’s unbelievable how the people react to our veterans here in this area.”

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