At an assisted living facility about 30 miles north of Baltimore, Army veteran Eugene “Bernie” Popiolek, 95, attended a birthday party for a fellow resident.
He sat by the fireplace and snacked on cupcakes passed around by the same small staff who help him with his daily needs.
“They treat me wonderful, I couldn’t be treated better,” said Popiolek, who has lived at the facility for three years.
The facility costs Popiolek more than $6,000 a month. He pays for it with social security, retirement funds and, as of January 2019, about $1,900 in monthly pension payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The money comes through a VA program called Aid & Attendance, which is designed for war veterans and their surviving spouses who are unable to care for themselves. The recipients must have a net worth less than $129,094, including most assets and annual household income, minus medical expenses not covered by insurance.
“They help me out; I know that,” said Popiolek, who said he is proud the VA is recognizing his service as a quartermaster in World War II.
But securing that recognition took his son Gene nearly two years.