There is interest in our state Capitol to send military veterans to private nursing or assisted living facilities rather than build new veterans homes to care for them.
Providing care in either a private facility or a veterans home is costly. There are many considerations that must be made. No. 1 is the cost.
Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe told The Missourian that he favors a voucher system for veterans to stay in private facilities in their hometowns rather than building new veterans homes. He did not mention that not every town has a private nursing home or one near where the veterans live.
Franklin County and the city of Washington have offered free land for a new veterans home. The site is owned jointly by the city and county.
The Missouri Veterans Commission plans to hire a private firm to conduct a veterans needs study, which certainly is in order. The study, among other things, will examine the need for a new veterans home within 90 miles of St. Louis. It is known there is a need for another home near St. Louis. Washington is a prime location.
There is a waiting list in the state to reside in a home for veterans. Kehoe indicated he will wait for the study to be completed before he makes up his mind.
Another thing that should be considered is veterans have a unique bonding spirit and living in a veterans home, regardless of the branch of service, enlivens their stay when they are with other veterans. Their military experiences and memories result in a connection that builds lasting friendships. They have much in common.
We don’t know to what extent the private nursing homes with their lobbyists influence lawmakers. It probably is quite a bit.
For many of the members of the General Assembly and the governor, it undoubtedly is a “wait and see what the study comes up with” before they make a final decision.
In the meantime, the waiting list of veterans seeking to reside in a veterans home gets longer.