Over the last two months, I have either written different letters or contacted reporters at the Asheville Citizen Times, The Fayetteville Observer, The Charlotte Observer, WLOS and even the governor of North Carolina. My goal has been to let the public know that the State Veterans Homes are full, with long waiting lists for elderly veterans.
None of the media published the letters or did stories on this, and the governor’s office referred my letter to their Veterans Affairs department, which never followed up. I have long held the opinion that corporate media is happy to report on veterans parades and other patriotic public events, but when it comes to actually reporting on something like the fact that the four veterans nursing homes run by the state have only 449 beds available for the whole state, and they are all full with very long waiting lists, they just do not care. Supporting the troops is not very important to them, and, in reality, it is not something they want to actually do.
I know the status of the Black Mountain state veterans nursing home because we are on its waiting list for my dad. They only have 100 beds, and we have been on their list for a long time, and honestly have no idea when he may get admitted. My dad is a Korean War Marine vet who is 86, has dementia and has a service-connected disability. He is qualified for the State Veterans Nursing Home, and no North Carolina veteran’s family should have to wait for years to get their loved ones into these nursing homes. It is my hope that, unlike the corporate media, Mountain Xpress will publish my plea for help and in doing so motivate those here in Western North Carolina who really do support the troops to call the governor’s office and contact state and local politicians and ask them to expand the four state veterans nursing homes so all qualified North Carolina veteran heroes can get equal access to them.
My family is not the only family in our area going through this waiting period. We were told, around two months ago, that we were number 20 on the waiting list for admission to the Black Mountain veterans nursing home, and I am not sure how many families are after us. One thing I am sure of is that no one puts their loved one on a nursing-home list unless they are really in need of help, and my heart goes out to all the other veterans’ families who are waiting like we are.
— John Penley
Editor’s note: Penley reports that on Aug. 15, he heard back from the governor’s office, which said it had forwarded his info to the N.C. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. As of late September, he had yet to hear from that department.
An update: After this letter was published in the Oct. 3 print issue of Xpress, Penley says the North Carolina State Veterans Home in Black Mountain contacted his family and began the admittance process for his father.