Oldest American veteran needs help staying in East Austin home

The oldest living World War II veteran needs help getting 24/7 at-home care (Courtesy/Overton Family)
The oldest living World War II veteran needs help getting 24/7 at-home care (Courtesy/Overton Family)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In his 110 years on this planet, Richard Overton has seen a lot. The country’s oldest veteran has met many presidents and celebrities, but the one place the United States Army veteran enjoys the most is his front porch.

Overton built his East Austin house in 1945, and it’s now a struggle to stay inside. His current caretaker can no longer provide for him and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits do not cover around the clock at-home care. “When you’re at the point where 24/7 care is needed… what’s best for the veteran might not be the home,” explains Patrick Hutchison, public affairs specialist for Central Texas Veterans Affairs Health Care System. “The caregiver is taxed at that point too.”

The VA does cover at-home care seven days a week, up to three hours a day. Veterans can also apply for compensation to help pay for in-home care. However, Overton’s family isn’t relying on the VA. They’ve turned to crowd-funding to keep their loved one where he loves to be.

“I’d hate to see him not have a smile on his face because he’s smiling when we come over here. [Going to a nursing home] would take that smile away,” says Volma Overton Jr., Richard’s cousin. “This smile is America’s treasure.”

Overton’s family has started a gofundme page to help raise money to pay for his at-home care. Their original goal was $50,000 and they have now raised more than $58,000. The gofundme goal is now upped to $100,000.

AARP research just released last month gives a snapshot of the strain caring for a parent or another loved one can have on families. It shows caregivers spend, on average, nearly 20 percent of their income on caregiving.

More than 78 percent of caregivers face out-of-pocket costs that add up to $6,954 per year. Household expenses are responsible for the largest share of that spending at 41 percent. Medical expenses account for a big chunk as well at 25 percent.