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“When someone thanks me for my service I generally reply, it was an honor and a privilege” Rodney Widenhouse, United States Navy Veteran, resident at Standiford Place in Modesto, California.

At Holiday, we have the honor and privilege of serving the United States veterans that have risked and sacrificed so much for our country. In our mission to help older people live better, we take pride in our long history of celebrating our veterans. Whether it’s through the unique Veterans Wall of Honor found in each of our senior living communities, or the chance to chat over a cup of coffee, we’re committed every day to celebrating those who’ve served our country.

Our veteran residents describe how remembering their war time service and creating bonds with those who have also served can help them to live compassionate and productive lives.

Male veteran resident looking at his time in the military

Memories of Service Time

Francis "Andy" Anderson, Marine, served in the Korean War. "Being a Marine had some good points, because we had a lot of prestige," he says.

"But there were a lot of bad points, because we were under the glare of the lights a lot. You've got pride, and you work pretty hard for it. I have no regrets."

"We're getting older, we're getting forgetful," admits Simon Vidal, Army Ranger, Vietnam. "But what we did back there, it is never going to go away."

Many older veterans experience a unique form of loneliness, connected either to health issues, mobility, or because of the absence of those who understand their military history. Veterans in retirement communities often create deep connections with peers, allowing them to break through some of those issues.

A Sense of Belonging in Senior Housing

"Veterans with PTSD tend not to trust other people, they don't trust the environment, they don't trust authority," says Rodney Widenhouse, U.S. Navy. "But they trust each other.”

Veterans can be a great help to each other, as they share common experiences and other similarities. “So [here] a camaraderie blossoms and exists,” says Widenhouse. “And it is very profound and meaningful.”

That sense of belonging in a retirement home community can be life-changing for some residents. "Grief and loss is something that people deal with very frequently here, and [we are] supporting each other. We even have a grief and loss support group that meets every Wednesday, continually. I think it's really the things that we share as veterans that are really useful in retirement homes like this."

Two male veterans talking at the front porch of community

Caring about Community

When looking for senior housing as you age, a significant part of your search is finding a sense of community with your new neighbors. With veterans living in all of our Holiday Retirement communities, you’re sure to find a fellow veteran who can connect and understand.

Don Elder, Air Force, a veteran of the Korean War, has found a brotherhood and a sense of purpose among the other veterans living at a  Holiday Retirement community. "I've been trying to put my energy into trying to help other people as I see them needing help," he says. "I've got to tell you, this past year, it has really been the vets that have pulled me through it."

Coming Home

Many veterans feel a sense of hyper vigilance or stoicism that can be difficult to manage in daily life. John "Robbie" Robertson, veteran of the Korean War, explains that he always searched for a seat in a restaurant where he could sit with his back to the wall.

"I would just automatically go to a table that had a wall behind it. And I could see what was going on," he says. But, since moving to the senior apartments, he finds a lingering sense of calm in the community dining room. "I don't sit that way anymore... it's my home."

If you’re a veteran, the VA provides monthly pension payments to wartime veterans who meet certain age or disability requirements, and who have income limitations. The VA Aid and Attendance, or Housebound benefits programs provide additional monthly payments for qualified veterans and survivors. If you choose a housing option near you that offers a community that understands your needs, you may be able to apply for VA benefits.

You can also visit The Directory of Veterans Service Organizations and seek assistance from the listed Veterans service organizations to understand how your income will be calculated by the VA for eligibility.

Appreciation for Our Veterans in Our Retirement Homes

When Don Elder decided it was time to leave his home and find senior housing, he asked Simon Vidal to take him to see some of the senior living communities in the area.Vidal suggested they go to lunch at Standiford Place.

"I noticed all the veterans were in one group eating together that day. And that's the first time that I met Rodney. I came back about a week later, and met Rodney out in the parking lot. And I talked with him for about 20 minutes."

Elder quickly found common ground with Widenhouse and Vidal, and he decided to move to the senior living community.

"The thing that I love more about this place than anything is the staff," says Elder. "They helped me adjust to the place. They've just been really good to me, I can't speak more highly."

Standiford Place's Resident Experience Coordinator Laurie Warren and other team members step in to make sure every veteran, and every other resident, feels comfortable in – and comforted by – their retirement home community. "It brings me joy. It makes me feel good to see [residents] flourish in a place like this," she says.

Holiday Retirement is Proud of its Veterans