Retired veterans advocate for Horry County VA nursing home

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 5:54 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Across South Carolina, there are only four nursing homes run by the state’s Department of Veteran Affairs, with the most recent one built in Florence County just last year.

Nearly 400,000 veterans live in the Palmetto State and according to the U.S. Census, nearly 30,000 live in Horry County meaning more resources like a VA nursing home is needed.

Horry County Councilman Orton Bellamy said the council approved a $600,000 land acquisition in 2021 for a VA nursing home.

He said details are still in the very early stages and could not disclose where the land propositions were at this time.

As a retired military veteran himself, he said he understands the importance of making sure resources are available to the military men and women of Horry County.

Retired Air Force security police officer Jaime Lleras knows firsthand how big the need is for more veteran resources in Horry County.

He currently works for the Disabled American Veterans Myrtle Beach Chapter which helps retired servicemen and women file disability claims.

“We are starting to see people in need of this nursing home to give them locally a place to go,” said Lleras.

Currently, the closest VA nursing home is in Florence. Administrative Assistant Chip Hardy said they can serve over 100 veterans at their facility, which opened last year.

“It’s really nice to have one here in our community of Florence,” said Hardy.

Other VA nursing home locations include Columbia, Charleston, Anderson and another facility just recently opened in Gaffney.

Retired Army veteran, Lou Mascherino said with so much military history connected to the Grand Strand, it only makes sense to build something in Horry County.

“For the amount of veterans we have in this community and this area we need one and we need one bad,” said Mascherino.

Mascherino and Lleras know it could be some time before a facility is built, but will continue to advocate for more veteran resources throughout our community.

“It took almost 10 years to get the VA clinic in Myrtle Beach but the waiting is definitely worth it,” said Lleras.

There’s no timetable as to when a new facility could be built.