Posted March 29, 2019 05:21:11In her 80s, retired U.S. Army Col. Lisa DeJong lives alone in her modest home on a secluded street in northern Virginia, the only home she’s had for nearly a decade.
She’s in her final months of a five-year tour in the military.
She knows she won’t be able to get back to the family she calls home when her tour ends.
But she doesn’t care.
Her husband, retired Air Force Colonel Scott DeJons, also retired from the military, and they want to take advantage of a $5 million state gift program that gives the elderly $5,000 a month to live independently for a year, even if they can’t work.
DeJons and her husband, former Navy SEAL Capt. Mark DeJones, have been living together in a rented cottage on the shore of Chesapeake Bay for five years, but she has trouble getting out of her car seat.
“I don’t know if I can go out, to the mall or whatever,” she said.
The couple has a dog, and a small house they bought in the 1980s, but they haven’t paid for a car, a lawn mower or a furnace.
They say they can afford it.
DeJongs is 65 years old and lives alone on a $4,500 pension.
She hasn’t seen her grandchildren in more than 20 years.
She has a $20,000 monthly pension from her pension fund and she relies on food stamps to get by.
Dejons, who was stationed in Germany, said he would be unable to pay his bills if he could not find another job and keep his job.
She’s also worried about being unable to get to work, as the state’s gift program is set to end in January 2020.
She said she would have to consider moving out of state if she were to have to do so.
‘It’s not easy to leave’In an interview last week, DeJondos said she was concerned about the state gift and that she’d been living in a rental cottage for a long time.
She also said she doesn “not know if this is an option.”
“There’s a lot of things that could be considered, I mean, you have to think about what the future holds,” she told The Associated Press.
After spending nearly three decades in the U.K., the retired colonel said she’s “not a sentimental person” and she doesn: “It’s definitely not easy for me to leave.
I’m a very practical person,” she added.
Her house, which she built herself, is a modest home in the back yard of a house she’s owned for 35 years.
It was purchased for $10,000 in 1979, after she left the military to pursue a career in civil engineering.
It has been in the family for five decades, she said, and the current owner moved out to Florida to try to buy the home in 2004.
For the past five years DeJos has lived in the cottage with her husband and two children.
Her children are 8, 9 and 11, but DeJonds has been working and caring for them.
She does not have a job, and she has a small pension.
In the last year, she’s worked as a housekeeper, cook and maid, and has become increasingly reliant on food assistance, a pension and Medicaid to make ends meet.
With the end of the state pension, Dejones said she will have to move out of Virginia and she would be able “to no longer do what I love most, caring for people.”
She said she hopes the gift program will continue.
When asked if she had any plans to move, De Jons replied: “It’s a question that’s on my mind, but I haven’t given any thought to it.”
The state gift is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and is a $10 million annual program.
The state gave $500 million to veterans for the 2017 fiscal year and $500,000 to veterans and their families for 2018.