Veterans' homes and care centers that have catered exclusively to long-retired soldiers who came from China with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) army will soon open their doors to elderly ethnic Taiwanese, Veterans Affairs Commission Minister Hu Chen-pu (胡鎮埔) said yesterday.
Sharing social resources can help change public perceptions on veterans and also help ethnic groups get along with each other, Hu said at a press conference after the proposal was approved during a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
The commission will officially unveil the new proposal tomorrow to coincide with the Double Nine Festival, when people traditionally show respect for the elderly.
Under the proposal, elderly people belonging to middle-to-low income households and the handicapped will be eligible to live in veteran homes for a maximum cost of NT$7,000 per month.
Veterans' homes provide daycare and temporary care, while the seriously incapacitated are accommodated in nearby veterans' nursing homes.
From a total of 11,306 beds in 18 veterans' homes around the country, as many as 1,400 beds remain vacant, as single veterans often choose to live by themselves.
"Of course we hope to look after all the veterans, but we have to respect their choice if they want to live outside the homes. Given that, it would be a waste of social resources to leave the spare beds empty," Hu said.
Treatment of veterans has long been a divisive issue, with many saying that veterans receive better healthcare services and pensions than elderly ethnic Taiwanese.
"Although some veterans were against the [new] policy at the beginning, they have begun to accept and support it. All disadvantaged people need the government's help," Hu said.
Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) praised the proposal at the Cabinet meeting yesterday, adding that through the new service, nursing personnel who have accumulated tremendous experience in the past 50 years will be in a position to help the government improve its welfare system.