FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the demand for health care services are in high demand. However, an at-home service that changed the life of a Fernandina Beach veteran is available to other veterans in need.
Robert Danker served his country during the Vietnam War. Later, he developed colon cancer in three places, crediting Veterans Affairs with helping to save his life. However, the treatments he received, particularly the chemotherapy, took a lot of energy from him.
"I really couldn't take care of the necessities that I needed," Danker recalled, "for personal hygiene, for cooking or for anything."
Danker welcomed nurses and trained caregivers to his home to help him overcome the challenges of his medical problems. They continue to assist him with needs like cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping.
“When you live alone, and you can't even walk from where I am, to where you are, it's difficult," Danker explained. "And the only thing you got to look up to his get up the next morning to endure more pain. Now, you have someone like yourself, come through that door with a smile on their face. And all of a sudden, you got a reason to get up in the morning. I can't begin to tell you how important that is.“
These life-changing caregivers come from Senior Helpers of Jacksonville, which are fully covered by his VA benefits.
Owner David Emery said while there has always been a need for their services, the COVID-19 pandemic has made what they do even more important than ever.
“I think it's highlighted the need," Emery said. "And frankly, it's also shown the safety of care at home, versus in the communal setting where they're more exposed to others.“
Emery, a veteran himself, said he and his staff have a special interest in helping those who served work with the VA.
“We've gained enough knowledge to help them walk through that process and get generous benefits for people that often didn't know they were eligible for benefits,“ Emery explained.
The benefits veterans are eligible for include Homemaker and Home Health Aid.
Danker says other veterans who need assistance with day-to-day activities should consider home care.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, I would not have the quality of life that I have now without them,“ Danker said. "Tomorrow they'll be here, and you know I'll be standing right there waiting for them to come in with a smile on my face."