FLORESVILLE, Texas – Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush visited the Frank M. Tejeda Texas State Veterans Home in Floresville Thursday morning. He said the meet-and-greets provided a valuable source of feedback.
"You hear from some of the residents, the good, the bad and the ugly, which is what I wanted, as the new land commissioner, was to hear feedback from our residents because they are our nation's greatest," Bush said.
Texas has 1.7 million veterans. The Veterans Land Board oversees eight homes that provide housing to some of those veterans. Bush said the VLB is unique in how it helps vets, especially for end-of-life issues.
"Unlike just about any other state, we provide the opportunity towards financial services, health care and a final place of rest for our military veterans," Bush said.
One of those veterans touring Thursday morning with Bush was retired U.S. Army Col. Matthew Elledge. Elledge is the senior deputy director of the Veterans Land Board and a 25-year Army veteran. He said a continued focus on training caregivers is critical.
"So they understand that if there are issues, they can see those issues, start to help the veteran work through any PTS (post-traumatic stress) issues that they may have," Elledge said.
Elledge said he appreciates that Bush tries to help out not just as a leader, but also as a veteran himself.
"His combat tour was in Afghanistan. That's a tough fight over there, so he truly knows what some of our veterans have gone through," Elledge said.
A senior project administrator who also accompanied Bush, Kathy Johanns, said teaching caregivers how to recognize triggers can help avoid them. Johanns said her experience observing a VLB tenant with post-traumatic stress made a lasting impression — an impression she said shapes how caregivers are trained.
"He was a medic in a helicopter. And his last memory was washing the blood out of a helicopter, of bodies living and dead. So when a ceiling fan comes on, the sound of ‘whoosh, whoosh’ reminds him of a helicopter," Johanns said about a patient.
Bush said it’s hard to walk through the hallways, meeting veterans from different eras, and not think about his own family’s military service.
"I think about my grandfather, who is a World War II naval (veteran). The sense of camaraderie of him and his generation, when I walk the halls of a VLB nursing facility," Bush said.
For more information or to see if a loved one qualifies for the services the Veterans Land Board provides, visit the Veterans Land Board website.