People Magazine recently reported the last known surviving Civil War widow veteran died December 16, 2020 at 101 in Marshfield, Missouri. Helen Viola Jackson, at age 17, married 93-year-old widower James Bolin. He fought for the Union Army in Missouri during the Civil War which ended in 1865.
Amazing as that sounds, Mrs. Jackson shared a logical reason why a 17-year-old would marry a man 76 years her senior.
According to People Magazine, she was one of ten children growing up during the depression and money was scarce. She met Mr. Bolin at her family church. Her father realized James Bolin needed care, so he volunteered his daughter to assist Mr. Bolin with household chores.
Eventually, James suggested that they marry. His rationale was that he had no money to pay for his much-needed care and if married, she could receive a military survivor’s pension after his death. So they quietly married at his home on September 4, 1936. Out of respect for Mr. Bolin, she kept her marriage secret from most people and continued to use her maiden name and live with her parents. After his death, she never claimed the pension in fear of her reputation and accusations of taking advantage of an elderly man.
However, according to her minister, in the final three years of her life, Helen decided to embrace her place in history as the last Civil War widow. Well-wishers began sending her cards and letters. She was honored by several Civil War organizations. She was even bestowed a spot on the Marshfield, Missouri’s Walk of Fame in 2018 by the town’s Cherry Blossom Festival committee.
Four Civil War Widows Lived During the 21st Century
Four known Civil War widows lived to see the current millennium. Gertrude Janeway, Alberta Martin, Maudie Hopkins and Helen Viola Jackson. They were all born in the 1900s, all married between the ages of 17 and 21 to veterans between the ages of 81 and 93. These marriages occurred due to the possibility of receiving pensions as dependents of Civil War veterans. Some of these unions were in name only, while others lived together as married couples.
We Help Wartime Widows Everyday
This story caught the eye of many at Veterans Home Care. We’re a unique national home care agency headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. We strive to shed light on an available VA benefits for wartime veterans and their surviving spouses. Many widows and widowers are unaware that they are eligible. We hope this story creates awareness of this VA survivor’s pension that still exists.
Are You A Wartime Widow Who Needs Help At Home?
The VA’s Survivors Pension is a tax-free monetary benefit. If you’re a surviving spouse of a deceased veteran with wartime service, and your income and net worth meet certain limits set by Congress, you may be able to get this benefit. If you need help with your daily activities, you may qualify for additional Aid and Attendance funds.
The maximum Survivors Pension with additional Aid and Attendance funds is up to $1,244 per month as of December 1, 2020.
Claiming the Survivor’s VA Benefit
While Mrs. Jackson never claimed her benefit, we encourage all widows and widowers of wartime veterans to do so. Our veterans served and earned their VA benefits for themselves and their families. Widows are eligible even if their late husbands did not have a service-related death or injury. They’re eligible even if the veteran did not serve in combat or overseas. The benefit, often called “Aid and Attendance” can be used to help widows age more comfortably and safely at home. These funds can offset the cost of ongoing expenses such as: an in-home care aide, adult daycare, medical alert devices, incontinence supplies, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing care and more.
Contact Veterans Home Care about our VetAssist Program
If you would like to use your VA Aid and Attendance funds primarily for home care, adult daycare or the latest medical alert devices with smart home technology, complete our “Check Your Eligibility” form or call us today toll free 888-314-6075.