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The wife of an elderly veteran is moving her husband to Stevensville because the nursing home she’d selected in Missoula has severed its contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mort Kessler, a 90-year-old World War II veteran, is one of several known vets in Missoula impacted by the Goodman Group’s recent decision to stop taking payments from the VA.

The Minnesota-based company owns both the Hillside Health Care Center and Village Health Care Center in Missoula.

“The only place around Missoula that will take veterans' benefits for skilled nursing is in Stevensville,” said an exasperated Rosanne Kessler. “It’s the only one accepting VA benefits. This is a disgusting situation.”

Joan Cronson, director of communications for the Goodman Group, said the issues surrounding the use of VA benefits arose before Kessler moved her husband into the skilled nursing home for roughly six days.

In a letter to veteran residents last month, the company said it was ending its contractual relationship with the VA.

At the time, Paul Teagle, regional director for the Goodman Group, called the move a business decision, saying the federal requirements to contract with the VA were “extensive.”

The company has yet to detail the requirements in question.

“Decisions regarding VA contracts at the Village Health Care Center and Hillside Health Care Center were made after careful consideration of the complex regulatory requirements for federal government contractors,” Joan Cronson, the company’s national director of communications, said Thursday.

Last month, Phillip Strommen faced a similar situation after receiving a letter from the Village Health Care Center announcing that it would stop accepting VA payments.

Ed Strommen, Phillip’s brother who lives in Anaconda, said the family had the financial means to keep Phillip at the Missoula center without using VA benefits.

But Kessler said she and her husband don’t have that choice. She planned to move her husband to the Living Center in Stevensville this week, saying the distance would create a hardship on the family.

“We took out a loan to take care of this kind of problem,” she said. “But they’re charging more than long-term care will provide. It’s the money.”

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