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War Veterans Home
Olan Wise is a four-year veteran who served in the US Army Air Force on the island of Guam, where he was a cook during World War II.
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War Veterans Home
A display of flags honors all branches of the military at the Northwest Louisiana War Veterans Home in Bossier City.
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War Veterans Home
Outdoor activities at the Northwest Louisiana War Veterans Home include fishing in a stocked one-acre pond.
The pinnacle of patriotism goes on display all across America on the fourth day of July when we celebrate the birthday of our nation, and one of the places where it will be clearly in evidence is the Northwest Louisiana War Veterans Home in Bossier City. But you can get your patriotic batteries recharged the whole year round just by paying a visit to the proud residents there.
Although, yes, it is a nursing home, fully staffed with doctors, RNs, certified nurse’s aides, dieticians, housekeeping and maintenance personnel just like any other high quality, efficiently run long-term care facility, there’s something different about the War Veterans Home. You’re surrounded by the theme of national pride as soon as you walk in the front door and are met by the thrilling sight of a huge mural representation of our national symbol, the American Bald Eagle, which covers one wall of the visitors’ waiting area.
The 92,000-square-foot facility is laid out in a practical radial design upon 17 acres of land donated by Bossier City. It is a cooperative venture with the federal government picking up 65 percent of the original cost of construction and ongoing expenses, the State of Louisiana picking up the other 35 percent. Additionally, donations and support pour in from Barksdale Air Force Base personnel, along with residents of the whole area. And it’s not just with money; numerous volunteers contribute their time and talents to helping make our war heroes feel at home.
Except for those patients who qualify for limited Medicare rehab cases, the monthly expenses are self-paid and are more than competitive with the majority of similar long term care facilities. There are insurers that specialize in long-term care policies; however, neither Medicare nor most healthcare policies provide long-term residential coverage.
The 165-bed home – where 125 beds are currently occupied – features registered nurses on duty 24/7 and is staffed by full-time physicians and physical therapists. The activities director keeps things hopping (and on Thursdays, the popcorn popping!) and not just indoors, for there is a stocked scenic one-acre fishing pond complete with a resort-style fishing pier.
Each resident’s personal privacy is respected to the point that we were asked to avoid taking pictures of faces; however, our host, Assistant Administrator Jim Adams, arranged for us to visit with and photograph one of the residents, Olan Wise, a four-year veteran who served in the US Army Air Force on the island of Guam, where he was a cook during World War II.
The former corporal came to the Shreveport area in the 1930s when his brother told him he could get a job here. Wise breaks into a big smile as he tells me that the first thing that happened when he got here was he met “a girl.” He said, “I liked her so much, I married her and we were married 72 years!”
Wise felt so strongly about serving his country, he went to recruiters from Shreveport to Lake Charles to Port Arthur and Orange, Texas, before he was finally accepted into the USAAF.
Jim Adams, our gracious host, took us on a complete tour of the facility where we were impressed by the library, the recreation facilities—indoor and outdoor—and the sparkling clean, comfortable guest rooms, which are all semi-private.
Any honorably discharged veteran of the armed services whose residence is in Louisiana is eligible to receive long-term care at the war veterans home. Prospective residents are interviewed by members of the staff to determine if their needs can be best met at the home. There are separate wings for Medicare patients, long-term nursing care, and one wing dedicated to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Certain needs, such as dialysis and cancer treatments, require transportation to other nearby facilities, including the Overton Brooks VA Hospital. Such transportation is provided on a regular schedule as required by the residents.
The $16 million dollar facility was approved by the state legislature in 2002; construction began in 2005; and the first resident was admitted in 2007.
By Chuck Lambert