KERNERSVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — Some veterans in the Triad say they feel like they’re living in limbo. One of them is 84-year-old Robert Kemper.
“Flying. It’s a joy,” said Kemper. For most of his life, his head was in the clouds. The veteran spent more than 10 years flying helicopters for the army. They were the first armed helicopters in the country.
Health problems grounded him after a tour overseas.
“When I got out, I could have taken another job like they say ‘flying a desk,’ but I didn’t want that,” Kemper said.
He’s had spinal cord surgery and battled cancer four times among other health issues and now does oxygen treatments most nights.
“My therapist came in here and told me … ‘You’re going to have to go to assisted living. You can’t do it,'” Kemper said.
More than a year ago, he started calling the North Carolina Veterans Home in Kernersville. He left countless messages and even tried to knock on the door to learn when the facility would open with no answer.
“I’ve been living month to month, and I’m going to have to do something,” Kemper said.
Kemper never saw himself in a nursing facility but had good experiences with the VA and other veterans organizations at the state level and knew it could be a positive place for him.
“I want to be around people I can relate to,” Kemper said.
After more than a year of making calls, Kemper was finally able to get someone on the phone with FOX8 on Monday.
The woman told Kemper she would send him an application immediately to fill out. She also said applications will be rolling, and there’s no set timeline for admittance.
FOX8 reached out to the North Carolina Department of Military and Veteran Affairs to learn when the facility will open.
A spokesperson tells us a date isn’t firm yet, but they are close, and they are waiting for final approvals for admitting residents.
We pushed for more details about why the facility didn’t open in early 2023, which was the target date given by federal officials.
A spokesperson sent us this statement:
“This is a home, for our veterans, not just another facility. Everything must be perfect for our veterans. They have earned and deserve the best.”
Kemper and so many others are ready to find their permanent home.
“The best thing is just to try not to think about it, live day to day … At 84, you ain’t got a whole lot of days left,” Kemper said.