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Love and duty guided me to be his caregiver

An elderly man with glasses and a hat sitting in a wheelchair
Son honors WWII Vet's wish to age at home, assisted by VA Salt Lake City's Caregiver Support Program

Ron Anderson's story of caring for his father, a proud WWII pilot, in his final years — is a journey of love, duty and resilience aided by the support of VA Salt Lake City's Caregiver Support Program. 

Embracing caregiving 

Ron Anderson's journey as Primary Family Caregiver for his father, Lee Anderson, is one of love and respect. 

Reflecting on the beginning of his caregiver journey, Ron said nothing could have prepared him for the challenging yet rewarding experience he had embarked on.

"My mom and dad were married for 65 years," said Ron. "After she died, dad remained pretty independent for about two years until he broke his hip."

Following that incident, Ron moved in with his father to provide him with care and support.

"He didn't want to be in a nursing home," said Ron. "He wanted to age at home. I was going to make that happen--love and duty guided me to be his caregiver."  


Lee Anderson's life of service 

Lee's story exemplifies the spirit of a generation devoted to serving their country. 

"His parents wouldn't let him join early," said Ron. "So he contributed to the war, by moving to Los Angeles, where he worked at Lockheed, building planes for the English before the U.S. got involved." 

Lee continued his work until 1942, when he was drafted into the Army Air Corps. He officially joined the war in January 1943 and had earned a commission as a Flight Officer by 1945. 

Despite his desire to be more directly involved in combat, Lee spent most of his time stateside, where he played an often overlooked but crucial role in the war by ferrying planes across the Eastern seaboard and Midwest. 


Challenges of caregiving 

As Lee aged, his needs grew. Ron sacrificed his job to take on a caregiver role full-time. 

"He relied on me every hour of every day," said Ron. "When he was up, I was up too." 

Ron emphasized the emotional aspects of caregiving, explaining there were strenuous days and moments filled with laughter and love. 

"It's hard seeing a parent age and become more dependent and vulnerable," said Ron. "There were moments of pure frustration and sadness, but also deep connection and happiness." 


Support from VA Salt Lake City 

Ron got help from VA Salt Lake City Health Care System's Caregiver Support Program, which was crucial to his journey. 

"They gave me resources and guidance that helped me to care for dad at home," said Ron. "It was a turning point for me. I had no prior experience being a caregiver." 

Lori Davis, RN, a nurse from the program played a key role in Ron’s journey. 

"Lori changed what I thought about VA," said Ron. "She helped me navigate the health care system and provided care that went beyond dad's medical needs." 

Davis helped get Lee a new wheelchair and coordinated his respite care. 

"VA helped me care for him at home, where he was happiest, and it made all the difference," said Ron. 


Journey's closure 

Ron's caregiver journey ended in 2024, with Lee's passing at 102. 

"Caring for dad was my way of honoring his life and service," said Ron. "VA helping me do it is their way of honoring his life and service." 

We are committed to supporting caregivers and honoring Veterans' wishes to age in their homes. For more information on caregiver support, visit VA Salt Lake City's Caregiver Support Program.

Jesus Flores is a writer and editor on the VISN 19 Creative Task Force and a Marine Corps Veteran 

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