Ivan Nance, a Coast Guard veteran, is one of the people enrolled in Southeast Alaska Independent Living’s Veterans’ Options for Independence, Choice and Empowerment, a program designed to give more control to veterans over how their caregiving is delivered. (Courtesy photo / Ivan Nance)

Ivan Nance, a Coast Guard veteran, is one of the people enrolled in Southeast Alaska Independent Living’s Veterans’ Options for Independence, Choice and Empowerment, a program designed to give more control to veterans over how their caregiving is delivered. (Courtesy photo / Ivan Nance)

SAIL seeking to expand high-level veteran care program

The program gives veterans with a high need of care more control over their own affairs.

For veterans, getting long-term caregiver assistance can sometimes be a challenging task, particularly in Southeast Alaska’s widespread small communities.

Even if family members are able to provide that aid, it can sometimes be a part- or full-time job.

A program run by Southeast Alaska Independent Living is aiming to give veterans a more precise control over the care they receive, said Sarah Wallace, SAIL’s Juneau vendor services coordinator.

The program, called the Veterans’ Options for Independence, Choice and Empowerment, has been part of SAIL’s veterans services for several years now, Wallace said. It’s run in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which funds it.

[Juneau residents get look at policing with Citizen’s Academy]

“The philosophy behind this is veteran-directed care,” Wallace said in an interview. “He is the employer. He decides who he hires. He is in charge of the hours. He can decide what tasks.”

The program provides funding for veterans to pay caregivers that they select. Veteran-selected caregivers can include family members, allowing for more precision of care, inside the veteran’s own residence. This is a change from working with a larger caregiver company, said Ivan Nance, a Coast Guard veteran with multiple sclerosis in the program.

“I just started in March. Previously I had been taken care of by a separate caregiver company,” Nance said in an interview. “From my perspective, (VOICE) puts more money in the hands of people who are directly helping me. It’s more efficient to have money go directly to caregivers than an overhead company.”

The program has been a marked improvement over his previous situation, Nance said.

“(It’s been) better and better. For whatever reason, there was a shortage of caregivers,” Nance said. “Now, I’ve got several people who are very capable and motivated. It’s worked out real good for me.”

Previously, Nance said, he had to work to the caregiver company’s schedule, instead of his own.

“Previously, I had an agency that had a caregiver available at a certain time for a certain block and I had to fit with that. It empowers me relative to the agency,” Nance said. “Veteran’s disability puts a huge burden on families. This program, by paying my partner, and being more flexible for my needs, is a vast amount of help.”

To become eligible, Wallace said, a veteran needs to work with their primary care provider, taking an assessment. The program isn’t for every veteran; SAIL currently has about 20 veterans enrolled in the program.

“We definitely have room for more. Once we get them set up, they’re very self-sufficient for the most part,” Wallace said. “This is for veterans with a higher need of care. You’ll have to do an assessment with your primary care provider and that will go to the VA.”

Nance said he was initially cautious about the program, but he’s come around and that he’d recommend it to those requiring that level of care, thanking SAIL for their organizing.

“I was skeptical. I thought oh boy, how’s this going to work,” Nance said. “I think their staff has made this work and continues to make this work.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 13

Here’s what to expect this week.

A mother bear and a cub try to get into a trash can on a downtown street on July 2, 2024. Two male bears were euthanized in a different part of downtown Juneau on Wednesday because they were acting aggressively near garbage cans, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Two black bears in downtown Juneau euthanized due to aggressive behavior around people

Exposed garbage, people insistent on approaching bears contribute to situation, official says

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wedesday, July 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Cars arrive at Juneau International Airport on Thursday, July 11, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau seems to have avoided major disruptions following global technology-related outage

911 centers, hospitals, airport, and public safety and emergency management agencies are operating.

People take photos of local dignitaries during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Teal Street Center on Thursday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Teal Street Center celebrates with ribbon-cutting a year after social agencies begin providing services

Nine organizations providing legal, disability, counseling and other help open under one roof.

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board chairman Ethan Schutt is seen during a special board meeting on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Juneau. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Dunleavy reappoints Permanent Fund Corp. board chair Schutt after weeks of uncertainty

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has reappointed Ethan Schutt to a public seat on… Continue reading

Employees gather in front the historic Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, which will be taken over by Juneau restaurant owner Tracy LaBarge at the end of the summer tourism season. (Photo courtesy of the Red Onion Saloon)
Owner of Tracy’s King Crab Shack buys historic Red Onion Saloon in Skagway

Tracy LaBarge will take over the establishment after the 2024 summer tourism season

A memorial started on Front Street in downtown Juneau for 35-year-old Juneau resident Steven Kissack, who was experiencing homelessness, grows on Thursday with food donations and suicide hotline information. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
As the death investigation of Steven Kissack begins, special prosecution office explains its process

Reviews can be lengthy, information limited to ensure due process, Department of Law leaders say

In this screenshot from a streamed court hearing, Attorney Thekla Hansen-Young (bottom right) speaks in front of a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 18, 2024, in San Francisco. (Screenshot)
Federal appeals court appears unlikely to halt Southeast Alaska king trolling for now

A lower-court order that could stop fishing has been placed on hold since last year.

Most Read