There have been some reforms in this area. Please note that there may be more current information available on this topic from a VA social worker.
Spousal impoverishment for VA extended care is covered under 38 CFR 17.111 (pdf) 1601a_06_hk_2015_11_10
VHA HANDBOOK 1601A.06 Veterans Health Administration Transmittal Sheet Washington, DC 20420 November 10, 2015
7. Spousal Resource Protection Amount. The spousal resource protection amount, as defined in 38 CFR 17.111, if the spouse .is residing in the community (not institutionalized). NOTE: This amount is not automatically applied by the VistA system and must be deducted from the value of the liquid assets as applicable during the completion of VA Form 10-10EC.
From Cornell, we read that the VA and Medicare standards are supposed to be the same now:
(vi) Spousal resource protection amount means the value of liquid assets equal to the Maximum Community Spouse Resource Standard published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as of January 1 of the current calendar year if the spouse is residing in the community (not institutionalized).
This is a partial screenshot from Medicare (LINK).
So depending on where you live (property taxes) and other factors, like utility rates, some spouses may be okay if a spouse has to enter extended care with Medicare or VA. And co-payments could be waived or reduced.
Here is a (link) to a 2013 VA Fact Sheet IB 10-590 that acknowledges the changes.
State veterans homes may have different rules.
However the rules for pensions are brutal for vets without a spouse or child as this denial shows (LINK to ruling by Judge Steven Reiss). Going into a VA nursing home would certainly mean a single vet would not be able to afford home payments while recuperating from a long illness with a reduced pension of $90.00 a month! More homeless ill vets. This stupid policy of punishing poor single vets for getting seriously ill is unforgivable.
Can the government try to recoup care costs? Yes, but that’s another subject.