There are more than 11 million adults, age 60 and older, alive today who have served in the military, representing over 15% of the 60 and older population. It is important to learn more about this population to identify how they are faring during retirement and to identify their needs. While there are still over one million Korean War veterans and close to one million veterans of WWII alive today, the bulk of today’s retired veterans served in the Vietnam era with 4.8 million already retired, and another 1.6 million reaching retirement age in the next ten years.
Statistics show that there are over 4,200 veterans residing in Marinette County, which makes up 12.8% of the total population of the county. Overall, there are over 1.5 million American veterans living in poverty, and at Elderly Services we strive to do our part in helping elderly veterans live an independent and more fulfilling life.
Each year, veterans contact our agency to sign up for our Home Delivered Meal Program, come in to enjoy a hot meal at one of our senior dining sites, request assistance from our Transportation Program, utilize the Chain Reaction events, or get confidential help from our Elder Benefit Specialist Program. Some of these veterans are struggling financially, and this year, Elderly Services has decided to help out in a new way.
“Supporting Our Seniors Who Served” is a project that Elderly Services has been able to carry out due to receiving a grant from the Marinette Menominee Area Community Foundation. We were happy to be able to apply for and be awarded a grant to gift veterans over the age of 60 in our community with gas and grocery cards. We feel veterans are some of the most deserving seniors in our community, and it is so important to make sure elderly veterans know that they are appreciated and that their dedication to their country has not been forgotten. Although a gas card or grocery gift card is only a small act of kindness, we have received feedback from participants who have said they are so grateful for the kind gesture, especially during a pandemic.
Mary, one of our recipients, responded, “Thank you so very much for your assistance. I am on a limited income and really appreciate all your help.” Mary’s husband, Louis, served in the Air Force for four years as a Crypto Operator/ Cryptologic Linguist and was stationed in Iceland his first year. He was primarily responsible for identifying communications using signals equipment. His role was crucial as the nation’s defense depends largely on information that comes from foreign languages. They married shortly after he returned to the states and were blessed with four beautiful children. Although Louis has been gone for many years, Mary continues to be an active member of our community. So many wonderful stories like this have been shared with us during this project.
It has been a wonderful experience meeting veterans and families in our community who have served in the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy, and we still have a few openings left. If you would like to learn more about the project or are interested in applying, please contact Elderly Services at 1-800-990-4242 or 715-854-7453, or email us at email@example.com.
Olivia Cherry is an Elder Benefit Specialist with the Marinette County Elderly Services.