Oldest American WWII Veteran May Have To Leave The Home He Built Himself

Richard Overton served from 1942 to 1945 in the Pacific.
Richard Overton served from 1942 to 1945 in the Pacific.

The oldest living US veteran of World War II likes to sit on the porch of the house he built on the east side of Austin, Texas. His family is looking for ways for him to be able to continue doing so.

Richard Overton turned 110 years old on May 11th. His current caretaker is no longer able to help him live in his own home so he may need to move into a nursing home.

Although he is eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), they do not cover around-the-clock care in the home.

Volma Overton, Jr., Richard’s cousin, has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money to hire someone to care for Richard 24/7. As of Friday, it had attained nearly $60,000 of the $100,000 goal.

Volma said that Richard is “an American treasure.” Richard has lived in his home since 1945. According to Volma, moving him “would be horrible.” Volma started the GoFundMe campaign to provide Richard with quality care without having to move him.

The VA covers three hours of at-home care per day, seven days a week. Veterans are able to apply for compensation to help with additional in-home care.

According to Patrick Hutchison, a spokesman for the Central Texas Veterans Affairs Health Care System, said that the home is not always the best place for a veteran when they reach the point of needing 24/7 care. It’s not just about the veteran. “The caregiver is taxed at that point, too.”

Richard was born in 1906 in Bastrop County, Texas. He was a member of the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion. He served from 1942 to 1945 in the Pacific.

After coming home to Austin after the war, Richard built the home he still lives in today. He says that cigars and whiskey are the secrets to his long life, though he’s had to stop drinking after having pneumonia in 2015. He spends his days sitting on his porch and waving to those passing by, Dallas News reported.

He thinks of himself as the neighborhood watchdog. According to Helen Elliott, a resident of the neighborhood, “He knows everything that’s going on. I don’t think the neighborhood would be what it is without him.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE