This Veterans Day at Tampa Gardens Senior Living is extra special. For Joe, Allen, and Paul, this year will be marked with an extra dose of happiness and security. For many Veterans, navigating post-service life can be daunting. After years in a regimented lifestyle, navigating the ins and outs of accommodations, benefits, social services or medical coverage can be tricky. That is where veteran’s workers, social workers, and care teams have been truly changing lives.
This past July, A Place For Mom (APFM) - North America's largest senior living referral service - became aware of a few Veterans in need of a helping hand. The men had been receiving treatment at the local hospital, but were soon becoming eligible for discharge. Because these gentlemen did not have accommodations lined up, APFM saw an opportunity.
With the help of social workers from James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, they began searching for the best possible housing options for these vets. Tampa Gardens Senior Living immediately came to mind.
A Place For Mom has a long standing relationship with Tampa Gardens Senior Living and parent company Pacifica Senior Living, so the partnership was a natural next step. Aarene Alessi, Customer Success Manager at APFM reached out to the senior living community in hopes of finding a stable housing solution for the Veterans in need.
The team at Tampa Gardens was immediately on board. Together with APFM and social workers they helped meet with each of the Veterans, assess the needs of each gentleman, and ultimately ensure a smooth transition for them from their hospital stay to their new home at Tampa Gardens Senior Living.
“We aim to improve the lives of seniors on a daily basis, so in some ways, this effort is no different but how we connected with these gentlemen was different,” said Susan Ayala, Executive Director, Tampa Gardens Senior Living. “Being homeless doesn’t always mean being destitute, sometimes it means that someone just needs a helpful hand to get on their feet.”
Through this partnership, Joe, Allen, and Paul were able to find a welcoming community among peers that fit their long-term needs. The Tampa Gardens team, including Executive Director Susan Ayla, Community Relations Directors Annie Schmitt and Rosemarie Day, and the rest of their staff, have pulled together to make this transition as easy, welcoming, and smooth as possible for each of the veterans. Because many veterans make the move from a hospital with minimal possessions, the team worked together to ensure their rooms were fully set up upon their arrival. Beds, linens, hampers, dressers, clothing and toiletries were provided to help welcome them to their new home.
“This effort started back in July and had we not worked together, these three men could have been in less desirable housing or in a shelter,” said Aarene. “From helping to navigate their VA benefits, to transporting them to get documents, to providing furniture, and clothing; this team has been amazing.”
Joe, Allen, and Paul were the first of what these teams hope will be many Veterans to make the transition from hospital stay to long term housing at Tampa Gardens Senior Living. Since July, they have worked together to assist more veterans with the move, and have established an ongoing relationship that will allow future Veterans in need to find homes at Tampa Gardens.
According to Angie Kirkendall, APFM Healthcare Account Executive, “I am so thankful that the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital puts their trust in me to make a difference in these Veterans' lives. With our relationship with Tampa Gardens, they make it possible.”
The senior living community is currently home to 13 veterans, who took part in a beautiful Veterans Day Ceremony in the community yesterday. As part of the ceremony, a newly revamped veterans’ wall was unveiled, proudly showcasing and honoring those who served and fought for their country.
For Joe, Allen and Paul, this Veterans Day was extra special, knowing they were truly home, in a wonderful, accepting environment full of fellow vets, new neighbors, and soon-to-be friends. The compassion and dedication from both the Tampa Gardens Senior Living staff, and the teams at A Place for Mom and James A. Haley Veterans Hospital have made this a year to remember for everyone. We look forward to the success of this continued partnership in the future.
Want to learn more about Tampa Gardens Senior Living, our Veterans program, or how to use Veterans benefits? Reach out to us! Our warm and welcoming community is a great option for Veterans looking for their next long term home.