Armed Forces Retirement Home rate increase

Imagine your rent going up by almost $1600, shocking right? Well, that is a reality for some residents at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport.

Robert Guenther turned 19-years-old while he was in basic training for the Air Force. He served our country for 20 years after that.

He was stationed in Alaska for some time and thought he would be there forever until it was time to retire when he ultimately decided on the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport. Guenther has lived here for four years now, but he is about to be forced to make a home somewhere else. “I moved in here so my daughter wouldn’t have to give up her lifestyle to take care of me. I would be taken care of here at the home. I move out, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Guenther currently lives in independent living at the home. Starting on January 1st, 2019, his monthly rate is increasing from $1,458 to $3,054. Rates depend on levels of care and income, Guenther makes enough to where he pays the maximum fee. Guenther says he simply can’t afford this increase and doesn’t see why it is necessary. “Everybody is desperate and just grasping at straws right now. I’m doing a postcard drive. My printer is worn out.”

Guenther has a postcard station outside of his room. The postcards are pleading for grandfathering fees. He has already sent over 1,600 to people like the president and senators. A stack of over 100 cards is about to be sent to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. “It’s the perfect criteria for grandfathering,” said Guenther. “It’s an established system. It’s a major change and the grandfathering has an end date. We ask the questions and we don’t get answers.”

Guenther has been working tirelessly to get the attention of congress and has sent multiple detailed letters to try and make something happen for the residents who represent over 15,000 years of dedicated service.

Guenther says over 100 veterans have left this home so far since the announcement and he is hoping not to join them because he truly loves the home he has made in South Mississippi. “We are fighting this and if we don’t succeed there will be a lot more leaving. It’s just very frustrating.”

News 25 reached out to representatives with the Armed Forces Retirement Home about why these increases are happening. A spokesperson says “We cannot promise assistance to everyone. The inability to pay and residents in need are important distinctions, but we can’t help those that don’t ask for it.”

They also said this increase will take place over a three year span and no resident will be forced to leave due to inability to pay.

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