Veterans home moves ahead in Legislature

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The proposed nursing home for veterans on the campus of the Jonathan M. Wainwright VA Medical Center took another step forward today when the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee voted to approve a measure that would create the facility as a branch of the Washington Soldiers’ Home.

Earlier this month Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, introduced Senate Bill 5691 to finalize the Veterans Home by establishing it in law under the state Department of Veterans Affairs. That measure was set for a public hearing this week.

Rep. Terry Nealy, R-Dayton, introduced the House bill, which gained unanimous committee approval this morning.

The Walla Walla Veterans Home would be a skilled nursing facility providing long-term care for honorably discharged veterans, many of whom are disabled. It would also serve families of veterans and Gold Star parents whose children died while serving in the armed forces.

The project recently garnered nearly $21.8 million in federal funding, according to Nealey’s office. In 2012 the state Legislature approved a capital budget that included a $14.4 million appropriation for its construction.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 5,600 veterans live in Walla Walla County. It’s estimated nearly 50,000 veterans live in southeast Washington.

The House bill will now head to the Rules Committee for further consideration.

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