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After dispute with VA, local vet gets to stay in home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local Army veteran, who was almost forced out of the Mandarin nursing home where he lives because of a payment dispute with the Department of Veterans Affairs, still has a home.

Vietnam veteran Duane Wilson, 75, lives at the Terrace of Jacksonville and was told about a month ago that he would have to find somewhere else to live.

Wilson and other veterans were told to get out by Friday because the nursing home was considering ending its contract with the VA because it owed them back pay.

But just three days before Wilson and the other veterans at the nursing home were supposed to move out, David Wilson, Duane's son, received a ray of sunshine.

"It was an awesome day. It was exciting, I was busy texting friends and calling people, letting them know and thanking them for their prayers and letting them know that he's getting to stay," David Wilson said.

The owner of the nursing home said that he couldn't stand to see the vets go and in the last two weeks the home was able to work out a payment schedule with Veteran Affairs.

That payment schedule allows Duane Wilson to keep the home he'd grown to love for the last three years a home his wife of 50 years, Shantel Wilson, now shares with him.

"Duane would have given his heart to anybody. He would have hamburger and have nothing and say 'go ahead and take it, I'm not hungry.  I'll eat later.' Duane was always sharing," Shantel Wilson said.

More than a veteran, Shantel Wilson said her husband is a family man who loved fishing and his grandkids, and now, he can continue to love the place he calls home.

"When you get that opportunity, to maximize as much as you can, you try to do so," David Wilson said.

As for the back pay, the VA has made several payments to the nursing home but is still working on getting fully caught up.