A Look at the Armed Force Retirement Home System



Background

The federal government operates two retirement homes for veterans as part of the executive branch. The U.S. Soldiers’ and Airman’s Home (USSAH) is located in Washington D.C. and the U.S. Naval Home (USNH) is in Gulfport, Mississippi. For over 150 years, these facilities have provided a comfortable and secure environment for retired members of all branches of the military.

Both of the Armed Force Retirement Home options are intended to be continuing care retirement communities which accept members who are able to live independently and see to the changing needs as they advance in years. Whichever home they choose, members can take advantage of a bowling alley, pool tables, a card room, fitness center, and library. There are arts and crafts and daily bus rides to the local PXs. The Armed Force Retirement Home in Gulfport has a swimming pool while the one in Washington D.C. has fishing ponds and a nine-hole golf course.

Gulfport, MS

The Naval Home was originally established on February 26, 1811 during the presidency of James Madison in Philadelphia on land purchased from the family of William Penn. The current site is on 36 acres of land on the Gulf of Mexico in Gulfport, MS. The 11-story resident building has accommodations for 550 private rooms, each with furniture and a half-bath. Each floor’s two residential wings are equipped with showers and laundry facilities to be shared. In spite of its size, it is the smaller of the two Armed Force Retirement Home options. Three meals a day are served in the full-service dining facility on the first floor. Other facilities also on the first floor provide health and dental care, fitness activities, recreation, postal services, barber shop, beauty parlor and bowling. The Navy Exchange and ballroom are also located there along with a Hancock Bank branch, and chapel. Washington D.C.

The Soldiers’ Home was established in 1851. The President Lincoln and Soldiers’ Home National Monument preserves the existing original structures, which are considered national historic landmarks. At one time, presidents resided there. Abraham Lincoln spent a significant amount of time there during the Civil War and wrote the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation in his residence on the grounds.

The modern residents of this Armed Force Retirement Home have private rooms, many with private baths. Every building has cable TV, air-conditioning and elevators. Meals are available in a modern facility that seats 1,400. This home has the same type of conveniences as that in Gulfport and also offers a daily bus to a race track, shopping mall, Smithsonian and other historic attractions. For residents with health needs that exceed the limits of the on-site facility, a shuttle bus to Walter Reed Army Medical Center leaves the grounds six times a day.

The Residents The residents at the Armed Force Retirement Homes have served in all four branches of the armed services in every war since the Mexican War. There are currently about 1,600 residents with an average age of 76, an average of 21 years of service and have lived at one of the Armed Force Retirement Homes for an average of 10.6 years. About 150 are women.

 


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