Heartland Veterans Waiting and Waiting

Heartland Veterans Waiting and Waiting
By:  Carly O'Keefe 

Anna, IL -- According to a report released by AFSCME, some Illinois veterans have to wait a long time for a bed in of the four Illinois veterans’ homes. What's odd is AFSCME officials say the homes in Quincy, Manteno, and LaSalle Illinois have many empty beds they can't fill because the homes are understaffed. 

The Veterans Home in Anna is fully staffed; it just doesn't have enough beds to accommodate all those who desperately need the services the home provides.

"Someone has to pass away before there's a bed. That’s sad," said AFSCME Local 3280 President Bonnie Brimm, a physical therapist at the veterans’ home.

 The Anna home has 62 beds total, and according to AFSCME, there are 160 veterans waiting to get in.

 "The nursing home side, we have 50 beds there, and it's a nine to 12 month waiting period to get in. On our apartment side, it's a two year waiting period," said Brimm.

Naval veteran Dennis Boyd's family put him on the waiting list in March of 2003. Boyd broke both of his hips and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Nearly six months later, in August a bed opened up. Boyd's family considers him lucky to have gotten in so fast.

"It's such a relief to know that they're taken care of, and they shouldn't have to wait for that care, no. they need more rooms," said Boyd's wife Sarah.

"If they had 62 more beds, they would fill 62 more rooms. I think there's that many that want to get out there," said Boyd's son John Boyd.

While the Anna facility is filled to capacity, expansions have been completed in Manteno and plans are in the works to expand the LaSalle veterans’ home.

"Quincy is the largest, and LaSalle and Manteno then us last. They've added beds up there, isn't southern Illinois as important as northern Illinois?"

Dennis Boyd’s family sure hopes so, because while their veteran is being cared for, hundreds of others are not.

"We have to make room for our veterans. We should take care of them because they've taken care of us. If we don't, we don't deserve the freedoms we have," said John Boyd.

"I know it has to be frustrating for these veterans across the board, because when they were called to duty, they didn't say wait for a year and I’ll go, when they were called, they went and served, now our job is to make sure that they're taken care of," said Brimm.