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Apr 3, 2018 4:23 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin Sponsors New Law To Help Disabled Veterans

Francine Sloan, Patti Yudelson, Anjana Abrole, and Jennifer Garnier. VALERIE GORDON
Apr 3, 2018 5:24 PM

Disabled veterans of the armed services who need skilled nursing help during the day on an outpatient basis, but who still want to live at home, may finally get the services they need without having to shell out thousands of dollars a month.

The Veterans Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act of 2017, sponsored by U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 28. It is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care VA per diem grant program, which allocated $68.8 billion to the program this year, according to Mr. Zeldin.

As a result, the Department of Veterans Affairs will pick up the costly tab of the services, allowing severely disabled veterans to attend the VA’s Adult Day Health Care program, free of charge.

The program is offered through VA medical centers, state veterans homes, or community organizations, where veterans can explore social and recreational activities, experience companionship with their fellow veterans and community members, as well as get help with bathing, dressing, fixing meals or taking medicines.

Fred Sganga, executive director of the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook—one of only three facilities in the United States to offer Adult Day Health Care services—said services can cost upward of $165 per day, not including transportation. Those costs are often shouldered by veterans and their families, creating both financial and emotional hardships and further limiting those who can take advantage of the program, Mr. Zeldin said. The legislation alleviates that burden.

The other two state veteran homes currently offering Adult Day Health Care services are Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis and Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hiolo, Hawaii.

With the passage of the law, Mr. Sganga hopes to add more than 150 state veterans homes to that list. “We’re hoping that more state veterans homes will get into the game in providing the service,” he said.

“It will be life changing for me and my husband,” Noreen Saladino, the wife and primary caregiver of Vietnam veteran James Saladino, was quoted as saying in a recent press release sent out by Mr. Zeldin’s office. “My husband will be able to receive the care he requires … while I get a rest from being his sole caregiver.”

Vietnam veteran Al Anderson agreed. “The bottom line is that this legislation will allow me to return home to my family, while still having the ability to receive essential services through the Adult Day Health Care program,” he said in the same press release. “I can keep my chronic conditions in check and still enjoy the comforts of my own home.”

Mr. Sganga noted that 10 Long Island residents, currently paying privately for services at Stony Brook, will now have their care paid for by the VA. He also identified an additional 40 veterans in the community who have been unable to afford the service, but might now benefit from the program.

“It’s been a three-year journey to get the legislation passed,” Mr. Sganga said. “We’re just so thrilled.”

U.S. Army veteran Christopher Ramos, commander of VFW Post 924 in Hampton Bays, called the legislation a tremendous step forward in expanding health services to veterans and their families.

“Our country made a promise to care for the men and women who sacrificed for our freedoms,” Mr. Ramos said. “This legislation will expand access for veterans and will provide America’s heroes with companionship and care.”

“It’s great to get the bill over the finish line,” Mr. Zeldin added. “I have spent time with veterans who have benefited from ADHC. I’ve seen firsthand how the program helps keep families together.”

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By 27dan (2708), Shinnecock Hills on Apr 3, 18 6:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
Good job Lee!!
By bigfresh (4381), north sea on Apr 3, 18 8:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well done...
By knitter (1725), Southampton on Apr 4, 18 7:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
How can you not support this guy???
By Taz (638), East Quogue on Apr 4, 18 10:10 AM
3 members liked this comment
Admittedly this is a good achievement, even a very good achievement, in an otherwise disappointing record. I’d like to know how Lee Zeldin, a declared veterans’ advocate but also a constant Trump supporter, will come down on the choice of the wholly unprepared and inexperienced Ronny Jackson to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs. You on board with that one, Lee? November coming.
By Turkey Bridge (1949), Quiogue on Apr 4, 18 4:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
Vets certainly deserve far better treatment than they have received at the hands of both parties. Zeldin, however, is being used as a pawn in the bigger game plan to privatize services now rendered by the VA. This legislation is just the camel inserting his nose into the tent.

Privatization of government services is a road with a few successes but also many failures. Once profit rather than "doing the right thing" becomes the motive for VA services hold onto your wallets because costs ...more
By Just sitting on the taffrail (36), Southampton on Apr 6, 18 6:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
How about this? Eliminate theVA hospitals and every position associated with them and issue each eligible veteran a card that entitles he or she to service at any medical facility in the country. The bloated beauracracy certainly eats more money than the services provided cost. That’s how we afford it.
By bigfresh (4381), north sea on Apr 8, 18 1:55 PM
I don't know about "any medical facility in the country" but a traditional employer-provided health insurance plan sounds reasonable.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6677), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 8, 18 2:46 PM
ANY medical facility!! We don’t do nearly enough for our veterans! The beuracracy of the VA is a horrific waste of money that should be spent on our vets, not on a bunch of pencil pushers. This idea came from a vet friend of mine and was met with a positive reaction by others I have spoken to, including older and younger former service men and women.
By bigfresh (4381), north sea on Apr 8, 18 3:20 PM
Well, yeah, anyone would want to be able to get in-network coverage at any location country-wide, but that's just not realistic.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6677), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 9, 18 12:09 AM
Our veterans have EARNED it! If there is no increased cost to the taxpayer why could you possibly object? You don't harbor the typical liberal anti military bias do you? Hopefully not.
By bigfresh (4381), north sea on Apr 9, 18 5:21 AM
Ok, let's extrapolate from what you said: "any medical facility in the country."

What about the private doctor's office that the Hollywood elite get their cosmetic surgery done?

What about the private doctor who does surgery on the joints of professional athletes?

Sure, if you could magically make it cost the same, why not?

I simply don't believe it would be a comparable cost, nor do I believe the VA is going anywhere because it serves a vital purpose to many ...more
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (6677), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 9, 18 6:06 AM
HR 620 guts the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It has passed the House, thanks in part to Lee Zeldin’s vote in favor of it. If passed by the Senate it will deny remedies to Disabled American Veterans and others with disabilities who are unable to access a public building and place of business.
Cynically named the ADA Education and Reform Act, it places the burden on the disabled, and relieves owners who have ignored the 25-year-old law.
It is another example of Zeldin ...more
By major dude (4), East Moriches on Aug 31, 18 3:12 PM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser