John Micallef served in the Navy for 33 years before he was forced to retire at the age of 55.
He is now 85-years-old and lives with his wife of 62 years, who was recently diagnosed with dementia.
“As long as I have life in me I’m not putting her in a senior’s home. I can look after her like I looked after her for the last 62 years that we’ve been married,” he said.
But he admits he will need some help.
“If I want to leave her alone, I have to call health care workers, and they come in,” he said.
The recent diagnosis also means frequent visits to doctors’ offices and hospitals. Right now, he is driving, but he will likely be giving up his licence soon and will need to take taxis to and from the hospital. He said all these things add up and so he turned to Veterans Affairs for financial support.
“They said because she was not in the service, she is not entitled. I’m not entitled for their help,” he said.
Micallef said he was angry when he heard that convicted-murderer Christopher Garnier, who is also not a veteran, is having treatments for PTSD covered because his father, who also suffers from PTSD, is a veteran.
“I’m sort of digusted with this thing, with this guy getting his treatment done,” Micallef said.
Veterans Affairs said it could not comment on a specific veteran’s case due to privacy reasons.
“Access for family members of veterans to counselling and other services may be provided in circumstances where it is determined that these services will assist the veteran in achieving their rehabilitation goal,” the department said in a news release.
“After applying for benefits or services, benefits are determined on a case by case basis.”
Micallef said it is unfair and frustrating that Garnier is getting help, but his own wife is not even though she is his dependent.
“It’s making my life a lot harder than before,” said Micallef.
“Before, we’re doing everything together. Now I’m doing most of her work that she used to do, and you know, I can’t leave her alone,” he said.
Veterans Affairs also has a Veterans Independence Program, which “helps remain independent and self-sufficient in home.”
For Micallef, that means helping him with his wife.
“We definitely don’t want to sell the house. We definitely want to stay here. We’ve been here 40 years now.”
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