Senior Report: change in law reunites couple

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Thanks to a change in the law, spouses of veterans can join their husband or wife at the Southwest Louisiana Veterans home - though they must pay for their care with private funds.

When couples marry they promise, "Til death do we part." But in the real world, sometimes elderly couples must live apart due to specialized nursing care they need. Such was the case for Leroy and Lucille Salsman have been married for 69 years during and until the past year, the only time they'd been apart was when he was in world war two. That's when this picture was taken. "We were at Camp Shelby Mississippi and she came and met me. We went on a picnic with some friends."

For the past year they had to live apart because of their individual needs and because only veterans could live at the veterans home in Jennings. But thanks to a change in the state law, Lucille has become the first spouse to move into a veterans home in the state.   Leroy is 90 and Lucille is 87. They just celebrated their 69th anniversary. Due to her medical condition Lucille is not able to talk, but Leroy says it's great to be together again. "I think she's going to do good here. She seems to like the place and she's eatin' pretty good right now. She's got a good appetite."

And her smile says a lot. His advice to have a long, happy marriage: "Give and take. It's 50/50. Not 49/51."  Their son Steven says it's was hard for them to be apart.  "It was very difficult, not only for my parents but also for the family. But now I think it's been resolved and I think it's a wonderful, beautiful thing."

Lucille was admitted to the home on there anniversary allowing them to celebrate their special day together.

And Mr. Salsman has this advice for a long life: work hard and eat healthy. He was a farmer and a cabinet maker and says they ate a lot of food they grew themselves.

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