World War II veteran living in Minnesota says he can't live in Fresno Veterans Home due to residency requirement

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Eight years ago, George Vandersluis packed his bags and left for his home state of Minnesota. He wanted to be close to his sister, and there was a Veterans home there that could give him the care he needed.

"California had nothing to offer," Vandersluis told Action News in a Skype interview from Minnesota. "I knew they were going to build and they said they were going to build, but they never got around to it."

Vandersluis is now 99-years-old. His older sister died last year, and he just moved into a Minneapolis veterans home. The Fresno Veterans Home is finally open.

"When I left Fresno, eight years ago, they said there's no possible chance of ever getting anything there. But it all happened. And I want in," Vandersluis said.

Vandersluis was a marine in World War Two, a survivor of Pearl Harbor and Iwo Jima. After the war, he moved to San Francisco, then to the Central Valley.

"Yeah I worked the Valley from one end to another," he said.

But despite living in California for more than half of his life selling tires and raising a family, Vandersluis says he can't move back to Fresno, where his family lives. His grandson, Paul Vandersluis, says he misses one of his best friends.

"I mean he lived in Valley for more than 50 years-we should look the other way for the six months," Paul said.

Six months residency is what he says the California Department of Veterans Affairs requires before living in one of their veterans homes.

"The Veterans home is an amazing facility, an amazing place, they take care of my grandpa unbelievably. I couldn't ask for any better care. And we just want you know everything for him to move out to Fresno and be with his family," Paul said.

Family members say a Veterans home is the only option for Vandersluis. And the best option is the Fresno home.

"I feel as though I'm an exception to the rule, I don't think I'm a foreigner by any chance. I feel very much like a Californian," George said.

Despite the rules, Vandersluis has all the confidence in the world he will get in.

Below is a statement from the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Our Fresno Home staff would be honored to assist George and his family with his application process so he can be placed on a waiting list when he is eligible for admission to a CalVet Home. California state law requires that Veterans be residents of California prior to admittance. George and his family have not yet submitted a completed application. We also offer our assistance to George and his family in finding another home in the Fresno area. Today, CalVet provided the Minnesota Home where George now lives with a list of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs licensed providers in the Fresno Area to share with George and his family."

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