The Sherman Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2772 wants to get information out to people about military-related services for the youth as well as for veterans. The post’s veterans expo Saturday brought in more than 40 veteran-friendly and military-related organizations with the hope of getting people to recognize which services can be of help no matter what their military-related goal is.


“A lot of veterans do not know where to start when it comes to looking for resources in the community,” community veteran coordinator Sharon Luse said. “It is such a complex maze to figure out what services are available to veterans. By actually being at a resource expo, you can really get answers and really get a good start to learn what direction to go in for whatever needs you have.”


Luse said there are a lot more services in this area that serve veterans that were not in attendance.


“The problem is that a lot of people have no clue that they even exist,” she said.


One of those programs, Luse said, is the medical foster home program. Grayson County has no medical foster homes and VA Medical Foster Home Coordinator Ninfa Araiza said it is because people are not aware of the benefits of the program.


“The closest one is in Princeton and then we have one in Little Elm,” she said. “We need at least 10 homes in this area. We do not want them to go into nursing homes. We want them to be able to live in this area and have a more independent life.”


Medical foster homes allow veterans to be able to live in a home where they are being taking care of 24 hours a day.


“It is an alternative to a traditional nursing home because they have caregivers and supervision that would be able to take care of them,” Araiza said. “It is important for us to get homes like this in this area because we have lots of veterans that do not want to go to a nursing home. They could pay to be able to go somewhere else, but they need to know about there options. They also need to have the option available to them in this area.”


Medical foster homes get paid between $1,800 to $3,000 a month per patient.


“We need to raise awareness because this is one of the best-kept secrets that the VA has,” Araiza said. “These are loving caring people. When a person goes into a medical foster home, they are being taken care of by that caregiver, but they are being followed by home-based primary care. This is equivalent to home health, but by the VA. So they get a doctor, nurse, case worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, dietitian, and pharmacy. All those people see the veteran there. They get a whole team.”


Saturday’s expo also had programs available for children and young people who are not yet veterans, but may be interested in joining a branch of the military.


Jeff Harwell is the aerospace education officer for the Texoma Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, which operates out of North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field.


“We are the auxiliary of the United States Air Force,” he said. “One of our main missions is to assist emergency services in response to disaster relief missions. We operate a fleet of aircraft. Out niche is that we do aerial photography after floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. We aerial photography for damage assessment.”


The second of the Civil Air Patrols mission is in the creation of a cadet program.


“That is probably the greatest thing we have going,” Harwell said. “That is for youth ages 12 and older. It introduces youth to a little bit about the military which we study. We study things like military customs and culture, how to wear the uniform, and we spend time studying aviation.”


Children who participate are not obligated to join the military and the Civil Air Patrol is not a prerequisite of joining the Air Force.


“So if there is a young person that wants to be a pilot or another aviation field, we have curriculum that the Air Force provides that can show them how to get started with that,” Harwell said. “It makes us unique because there is a heavy emphasis on aerospace education and because we are an auxiliary, they also learn about military customs and procedures.”


Harwell said it is important for the people of this area to know about the Civil Air Patrol because it does give them an upper hand.


“We have a former member who went on to join the Air Force,” Harwell said. “He has been made a leader because of his background. He is an element leader for his class. That is because he took advantage of learning about this program. This helped him get into the path of where he wanted to be in his Air Force goal.”


For more information about medical foster homes, call 903-583-1414. For more information about the Civil Air Patrol, call 903-786-6227. For more information about other veterans services at the expo, call 903-893-5858.