DRAFT Environmental Assessment
Tennessee Veterans Home
VETERANS SERVICE OFFICE
State Veterans’ Home
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides long term care services to veterans through three national programs: VA owned and operated homes, state veterans’ homes owned and operated by the states and the community home program where the VA contracts with local homes through VA Medical Centers.
Efforts have been underway for a number of years to locate a state veterans’ home in Cleveland/Bradley County. It would be a facility offering intermediate and skilled levels of nursing care to provide a home for Tennessee Veterans who have honorably served our country and now are in need of long term care.
The Bradley County Commission and Cleveland City Council passed resolutions in 2003 in support of a local state veterans’ home facility. The resolutions recognized that it would be a service to the veterans of this part of the state to have a home for veterans built in
County. It would be more convenient for local veterans and their families while also providing more beds to alleviate a growing demand throughout the state of
Work began on a state resolution to support a VA home here in late 2007. The result was passage of House Resolution 531 on
May 6, 2008. The resolution was sponsored by Representative Kevin Brooks and urges the Governor to support the construction of a state veteran’s nursing home in
County. The resolution passed 97 to 0.
At last count in 2007, there were 45,861 veterans in
County and the surrounding counties of Hamilton, Polk, McMinn, Meigs and Rhea. Veteran’s population in age group 65 to 84 is now 16,394. The number of veterans in that age group is expected to increase to 17,944 by 2014.
Tennessee, the General Assembly in 1988 created the Tennessee State Veterans’ Homes Board, a body to establish and operate public homes within our state. These are known as "Tennessee State Veterans Homes”. John Simmons, a local veterans advocate, is a member of this board. In their meeting on
July 28, 2008, John was elected Vice Chairman.
Construction of state VA homes, once approved, is funded at 65% by the federal government (VA) and 35% by state/local plus the land must be donated. A 120 bed home with an adult day care program for up to 80 individuals currently runs about $21 million. In our case, this would mean, the federal government/VA would provide near $13.5 million and state/local about $7.5 million.
With the financial situation presently looking dismal at the state level, we are looking at other potential ways to generate the remaining state/local portion. If our portion of the funding is available, it is quite possible to move up on the priority list for federal funding.
There are currently three Tennessee State Homes in operation;
Murfreesboro, Humboldt and the newest
Knoxville. These homes are first class facilities with professional nursing care, social services and activities and rehabilitation services. A fourth home has been approved for
County. This project was placed in the VA Priority Group 1 and is currently awaiting federal appropriation to fund construction.
We are working diligently to be the location for the next state home in
Tennessee. One of the first steps is to file a formal application with the VA State Home Construction Program in
Washington. This has been accomplished as of
April 15, 2008.
One tremendous advantage we have in this process is that
County is most fortunate to have anonymous donors that wish to donate three million dollars for a home to be located here. This private donation of $3 million can be applied toward the state/local 35% portion thus reducing it from the more than $7.5 million to around $4.5 million. This donation gives
County a huge advantage and could well make the difference if we get a home here or not.
County land is available to use for the veterans’ home, but we would like to have additional options as the VA prefers to have several potential sites to choose from.
The Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council has been formed and meets bimonthly to help bring this project to fruition. This council includes members from the
Commission (Commissioners Ed Elkins, Mark Hall, Jim Smith and Howard Thompson), City Council (Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, Vice Mayor Avery Johnson and City Manager Janice Casteel), local Veterans Service Organizations and other interested citizens. The first meeting was held in July 2008 with 27 individuals in attendance. Cid Heidel, American Legion Post 81 Adjutant, and Mark Hall, Bradley County Commissioner, were elected Council Co-Chairs and Joe Davis, Bradley County Veterans Service Officer, recording secretary. Three Sub-Committees were formed. The Funding Sub-Committee, co-chaired by Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins and Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel; the Site Sub-Committee, chaired by John Simmons and the Public Relations/Speaking Sub-Committee, chaired by City Mayor Tom Rowland.
Please contact the Bradley County Veterans Service Office at (423) 728-7100 for additional information.