WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A Wyoming Navy veteran in need of a hospice bed finally has a place to stay in his final days. A Jenison nursing home is stepping up, offering him a spot for free.

John and Carla Rich’s lives have been intertwined since they served in the Navy together in the early 2000s.

“Just an amazing friend, we’ve been friends for 20 plus years, and an amazing husband and even better father,” Carla Rich told News 8 on Monday afternoon. “Those are the things that we’ll take with us.”

Memories that Carla Rich and their 4-year-old son are cherishing as John Rich enters his final days.

“We’ve been told one to two months is what he has left,” she said. “My mother-in-law and I see him day to day, so we think it’s less.”

In 2021, John Rich was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer. Although surgery removed most of one tumor, two more formed and would not respond to treatment.

Earlier this month, Carla Rich tried arranging hospice for her husband, but there were no beds at multiple VA facilities.

“You always hear these veterans that have gone through such horrible wars and come home and have all these issues,” she said. “The last thing they need to be worrying about is where they’ll go in their final years.”

After a News 8 story on Friday sharing their experience, everything changed. The next day, Carla Rich got two calls from nursing homes offering to give John Rich a private room for free. One of them was Waterford Place in Jenison.

“You never want to say goodbye, but you want to be in that right environment and have good care in the process too,” said Bean Leavell, the retirement community’s executive director. “We wanted to just give him that space to be with his family and his last day. To have them close by and nearby. Family is really important.”

He has a private room and restroom, and family can visit him 24 hours a day.

John Rich in the hospital undergoing treatment for brain cancer. (Courtesy)
John Rich in the hospital undergoing treatment for brain cancer. (Courtesy)

“They said not to worry, ‘We’ll be taking care of him,’” Carla Rich said. “That brings our family such peace of mind to know that he’s in a place where they’re going to be caring for him, and I know he’s safe. And if anything comes up, they’ll be calling me.”

“They could’ve easily just said, ‘We have a bed available,’ and left it at that,” she added. “But (they said) ‘We have a bed available, don’t worry about paying for it.’ In fact, there’ll be a room full of toys for our son whenever he decides to visit with me.”

John Rich moved in Monday morning to a hero’s welcome.

“We had a couple of veterans meet him at the door and saluted him when he came in,” Leavell said. “So that’s pretty meaningful for those two guys to do that.”

As Carla Rich prepares to say goodbye to her husband, she’s finding solace in knowing that John Rich will finally be at peace.

“We’ve kind of come to terms with it just because we don’t want him suffering anymore,” Carla Rich said. “Brain cancer in itself it takes you so fast.”

“He was so active and up until September of last year, from that point forward it was downhill after that so fast,” she added. “At this point, we don’t want him suffering anymore. It’s hard to watch somebody at 40 just to lay there and not do anything and hardly talk and know his end is coming.”