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Vets Views: Minnesota has five high quality veterans homes­­­; newest fell victim to politics

Gregory Remus began work April 8 and has already immersed himself in his job seeing veterans. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Veterans and their family members often come into my office unaware that Minnesota has five extraordinary Veterans Homes. The Minnesota Veterans Homes are located throughout the State of Minnesota.

Facilities are located in Fergus Falls, Hastings, Luverne, Minneapolis and Silver Bay. The mission of the Veterans Homes is to oversee and guarantee high-quality health care for Veterans and dependents in its care. I cut and paste the description of the Fergus Falls and Minneapolis Veterans Home from their websites.

"The Fergus Falls Veterans Home offers a state of the art facility featuring a main street motif for 85 veterans and their spouses. Recognized as a leader in skilled nursing care delivery, residents receive specialized and individualized care though a team approach. We provide the residents with as much independence and choice as possible. The quality of care is foremost. Our residents are our primary concern; we will strive to keep them happy and to maintain the greatest possible independence in their lives. Our mission is to CARE: "Creatively deliver focused care; Acknowledge military heritage; Reconnect residents with the community; Enhance life's experiences." The Fergus Falls Veterans Home also has a VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic on site."

"The Minneapolis Veterans Home, once called the Old Soldier's Home, was established in 1887 for indigent veterans of the Civil War. The Home is located on a 51 acre wooded campus overlooking the Mississippi River near Minnehaha Falls.

The original intent was to create a beautiful, comfortable community for veterans in need of care in their later years. That spirit of caring continues today as staff follow a "WE CARE" philosophy. "WE CARE" means a "willingness to serve in an environment of person-centered care with compassion, accountability, respect and dignity with excellence as our standard."

The Home provides skilled nursing care, which includes Alzheimer's/dementia care, domiciliary care and adult day care will be available in the near future. Currently the Home cares for 291 residents requiring skilled care and 50 residents in the domiciliary."

From these two descriptions you can see the value of the homes and you come to realize they are each (all 5 homes) unique in their own way.

Please note a veteran is eligible based on the following admissions criteria: Honorably Discharged Veteran with 181 consecutive days of active duty; Minnesota resident at time of application or "Service Credited to Minnesota" - The Veteran's military records indicate the Veteran entered the service from Minnesota; Spouse of eligible Veteran, over 55 years of age, and reside in Minnesota; and must demonstrate medical need for either skilled nursing care or domiciliary care.

On an unpleasant note, coincidentally the same day the much awaited Vikings Stadium was approved, the Minneapolis Veterans Home was left high and dry. Both of these decisions were made on the last day of the legislative session.

The Minneapolis Veterans Home is the oldest facility of the five homes in Minnesota, The State was in the process of demolishing and rebuilding Building 17 at the Minneapolis Veterans Home. The first half of the building was demolished and is in the final stage of being rebuilt. The demolition and rebuilding of the other half of the building was to be implemented this upcoming year.

This was to be a 100 bed skilled nursing facility. The State was to pay just over $25 million with a Federal match of $17 million (which had already been approved and received).

The bonding request of $25,420,000 was removed at the last minute and the request was reduced to $3,050,000. This means the matching funds go back too. I hope appropriate actions will be taken to restore the funding and complete this very important project.

As always the purpose of the Hubbard County Veteran Service Office is to provide assistance and support to eligible veterans, their dependents and survivors in obtaining benefits through the State and Federal Departments of Veterans Affairs, and to provide benefit counseling, claims service, referral and assistance in a variety of other programs.

You can contact me at the Hubbard County Veteran Service Office at 201 Fair Ave, Park Rapids, 732-3561. Have a great day! Please note - I will be in Laporte at the Lakeport Town Hall from 9 a.m. to noon and at the ARCC in Akeley from 1-3 p.m. every third Thursday of each month.