Recently, an estimated 350 people, mostly Vietnam veterans and their spouses, gathered at the Rotary Community Center in Oscar Frazier Park in Bluffton. The March 14 service marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the war in Vietnam. Communities around the country are expected to hold ceremonies and events for the next three years.

There weren’t too many dry eyes as guest speakers gave many long-overdue thanks and acknowledgment to a group of veterans who haven’t always been given the respect they need and deserve.

Howard Metcalf, director of the South Carolina Bureau of Veterans’ Affairs, who also served in Vietnam, provided some resolute words.

He said that Vietnam veterans served with honor; now it’s the VA’s job to help serve them.

The VA’s benefit known as Aid and Attendance is one way the VA helps veterans maintain their independence and dignity as they grow older.

Aid and Attendance is a pension benefit that pays qualified veterans and their spouses for specific costs associated with home care and care provided in an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Care services must be necessary due to cognitive or physical limitations and may include custodial and personal care. The amount paid for Aid and Attendance is over and above a veteran’s monthly pension.

To qualify for Aid and Attendance, claimants must have an adjusted annual income under established thresholds. Current thresholds dictate that claimants cannot have more than $80,000 in assets. This amount is calculated on a sliding scale and does not include a person’s home and-or vehicle.

Certain costs can be subtracted from a person’s total income to determine the adjusted income. For example, incurred costs associated with medical, custodial and personal care are not reimbursed and subtracted to determine the adjusted income. To learn more, visit or call 800-827-1000.

To qualify for this benefit, the claimant must meet one of the following conditions:

  • Requires regular aid with personal care activities such as bathing, feeding, dressing, and personal hygiene, adjusting a prosthetic or orthopedic device.
  • Is unable to live independently and without support.
  • Be bedridden or blind.
  • Live in a nursing home.
  • Need aid due to safety risks (physical or mental limitations) associated with injury or illness.

Other qualifications include, but are not limited to:

  • A minimum of 90 days active military service with at least one day during a period of war.
  • An honorable discharge or discharge other than dishonorable.

More than 58,000 servicemen and women paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War. Countless more came home with mental and physical injuries, yet never received assistance.

Finally, 50 years later, the help is available.

Debbie Morris, MA EdS, is certified by the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and is the CEO and co-owner of Home Helpers Home Care and Home Health.