Society strives to be top veterans’ employer, care provider

Good Samaritan Society – Indianola, just outside of Des Moines, Iowa, isn’t an official veterans home.

But march down hallways and peek into rooms and you’ll likely find yourself in the company of heroes.

Warriors such as Vietnam Veteran Buster Allred.

“My care is excellent,” says Buster, 72.

His wife Kathy adds, he has a rare progressive neurological disease called corticobasal degeneration.

While Kathy visits her husband of 54 years daily, she depends on Buster’s caregiver Ivy MacDonald.

"She makes me laugh whenever I’m here," Buster says with a smile. "She’s one in a million, isn’t she?"

Kathy says that attention “means everything. This man is my life."

Society administrator Natasha Blackburn says half of the roughly 80 residents at the long-term care center served in the military.

"We have a large portion of our residents who are veterans and we’re very honored to serve them here in our community,” Natasha says.

The nursing home contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s also part of the Society’s mission to be a provider and employer of choice for veterans.

“I feel like we’re giving back to them like they gave to our country, so it hits home. It really feels good. To hear their stories just amazes me,” Natasha says.

A place for honoring military service

World War II pilot and author Ralph Alshouse just celebrated his 100th birthday.

“That was the best in World War II,” Ralph says pointing to a photo of Corsair fighter plane. “We flew day and night. Good weather, bad weather. When Admiral Halsey wanted airplanes, he got airplanes."

Ralph credits his longevity to getting his vitamins and surrounding himself with good people.

“They’re helpful, friendly, kind, thoughtful, considerate. You want more?” Ralph jokes when describing Society staff.

Steps away from Ralph's room is a special gathering place with photos honoring service members at the nursing home.

“This area that we’re in right now is our veteran honor area of the building. I’m trying to get it up and running to where they play cards in the evening and that they get more connected than they already are,” Natasha says.

Looking at his military photo on the wall, Army veteran John Vermace says, “it makes me feel proud."

“They thank the veterans now for what we’ve done."

It's something he didn't experience during the Vietnam War.

“It’s very significant that we can care for veterans and give back to them like they gave to our nation,” Natasha says.

Whether it’s an honor area, veteran-focused activities or just coffee and a story, it’s about caring for the person next to you.

“I’m proud that they are remembering us,” John says.

“I love it. We need more."

Related stories

Find a Good Samaritan Society location

Connect with Us

Sign up for the Good Samaritan Society's newsletter to learn about our mission and how we're making a difference. Stay up-to-date on health information, events, services, and more.