Vigilance key to getting veterans home constructed

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Well, it looks as if the finish line — completion of a veterans nursing home on the grounds of the local VA Medical Center — could soon be in sight.

It’s still too early to say the project will get done given the spasmodic journey over the past 10 years. The home’s funding always seems to be in flux and its size changing from year to year.

Nevertheless, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has been told by acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson that $23 million has been allocated for the veterans nursing home, which is a joint project of the federal and state governments.

Murray has championed this project every step of the way for the past decade. So, too, has state Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla. And others in Congress and in the state Legislature, Democrats and Republicans, have gotten behind the effort.

This veterans home is needed in this corner of the state. Washington has veterans’ homes in Spokane, Kitsap County and Pierce County, but the southeastern corner has nothing.

The project is slated to be a complex of small houses on the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus and will include a skilled nursing home to provide long-term care to honorably discharged veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans who have died

Having the facility in the shadow of the local VA hospital makes a great deal of sense. Care for those living at the nursing home will be quicker and more cost effective.

In addition, as Walla Walla Mayor Jerry Cummins — a Navy veteran — points out “the benefit (is) retired military feel very safe on a military base.

“This location will give peace of mind to those residents. It’s just a beautiful place.”

But being a necessary project at the right location and with funding approved by the United States and Washington state is no guarantee this is a done deal.

It’s not just a government project, it’s a two-government project. And that comes with the need for tricky political navigation.

Murray and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, as well as local and state officials, are focused on moving the nursing home forward.

That political vigilance is necessary to get this necessary veterans’ home project to fruition.


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