Wednesday , May 29 2024

Aging Veteran Wants to Return Home to Fresno

 

  A veteran who survived the attack at Pearl Harbor and the battle of Iwo Jima, now wants to go home.

But California law and veterans affairs policy is keeping George Vanerluis from returning to Fresno.

The 99-year-old veteran spent time in a VA facility in Hastings and now is in Minneapolis.

"As far as I’m concerned, he has had excellent care here and in Hastings. It’s just that now we want to get him back home, the VA system won’t accept him," said his daughter-in-law, Roxanne Schatzlein Vandersluis.

Schatzlein Vandersluis, who is visiting from California, said Tuesday the new veterans’ home in Fresno won’t allow him to get on a waiting list until he’s been a resident for six months. The story was first reported by the Hastings Star Gazette.

"Right is right. There’s no reason you should deny me that. I spent more years there than I have here," he told reporters.

Vandersluis was in his early 20’s when he left his home in Minneapolis to join the Marines. Not only is he a World War II veteran, but one of the few still alive who survived the attacks at Pearl Harbor. He’s one of an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 who are still living.

"I was aboard a light cruiser," he said of the attack. "The USS Honolulu."

Eight years ago, he suffered a heart attack. And since his family said there was no VA facility close to home, he came to Minnesota where his older sister still lived.

"She was a wonderful person," he said. "I think that was the main reason I stayed back here."

But last fall, at nearly 101 years old, she passed away.

Now he wants to return to Fresno to be closer to his children and grandchildren.

"I think basically, I want back there because of the kids," he said.

He will need to be at a facility that has skilled nursing, according to his family. They said an administrator at the care facility in Fresno told them not to apply because he didn’t meet the residency requirements.

"This is ridiculous. He’s live there practically his whole entire life," she said.

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