WWII veteran's hope of returning to family hindered by VA policy


A World War II veteran's attempt to spend his remaining years at home in California is being blocked by a Veterans Affairs policy.

George Vandersluis, 99, who grew up in Minneapolis, served as a Marine on the U.S.S. Honolulu during the attack on Pearl Harbor, MPR News reported.

"We took one hit, not the ship directly. But it hit the dock along side of us and went into the side of our ship down below. So, we ended up in dry dock the next day, but that was just about it," he told MPR in 2011.

After the war, he raised his sons in Fresno, California. But eight years ago he suffered a heart attack and moved back to Minnesota to get treatment at a VA facility – there were none near his home in California, and his sister was still living in Minnesota, the Hastings Star Gazette reports.

His sister died last fall and his health began to decline, so now he wants to go home to California to be with his family.

"There's no reason you should deny me that. I spent more years there than I have here," Vandersluis told KARE 11.

The problem is the VA home in Fresno only takes California residents. Vandersluis would have to live in the state for six months to be put on the VA's waiting list, reports note.

“That’s his wish, is to get back there and we’re hoping that … somebody can come to his aid,” Roxanne Schatzlein Vandersluis, his daughter-in-law, told the Hastings Star Gazette.

The family has sent letters to the governors of California and Minnesota, and have also raised the issue with the VA in Fresno, but have made little progress.

A spokesperson for Gov. Mark Dayton told KARE 11 the state Department of Veterans Affairs is looking into the issue, and Congressman Tim Walz, who is on the House Committee for Veterans Affairs, is also checking to see if anything can be done.

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