Gov. seeks faster funding for veterans homes
Ducey’s letter could boost plans for Yuma facility
Gov. Doug Ducey has written and shared a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs late last week to ask for speedier funding for two state veterans homes providing longterm care, one of which is planned for Yuma.
Ducey said the 60-bed facilities planned for here and Flagstaff secured a combined $19.2 million in required state funding in 2015, but since then the state has been waiting for federal funding to be allocated, as inflation continues to eat away at the existing budget.
“As you know, the longer it takes to break ground on these projects, the more expensive they become,” the letter to Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin says.
It continues: “I know there are many priorities across the country, and veterans in all corners of America have needs. However, I respectfully request that your office work to prioritize these projects in our state, so we can provide the necessary services to the veterans that so bravely and courageously served our country and defended our freedoms.”
Arizona’s two existing state veterans homes in Phoenix and Tucson have a combined 320 beds. They provide skilled nursing and rehabilitative care for aging or chronically ill veterans and their spouses. Ducey points out that both Yuma and Flagstaff are more than 100 miles away from the nearest veterans home, meaning patients can be forced to move far away from their families to receive the care they need.
Ducey cited VA estimates which have found Arizona will be short 1,200 beds for meeting its veterans’ needs for this kind of care, and added state officials also want to build another home to serve the northwestern part of the state, most likely in Kingman.
The State Veteran Home locations are operated by the Arizona Department of Veterans Services and funded by the federal Department of Veterans Af-
Those who work with Yuma County’s veteran population said they’re seeing the need for a local facility close-up, every day.
“It’s just crazy, We’re dealing with homeless veterans, veterans who need places to stay,” said Del Hamilton, outreach specialist for the Yuma VA Center.
Miguel Villalpando, project
director for the Yuma office of National Community Health Partners, said out of the roughly 100 veterans the agency serves each year, about 90 of them are homeless or in danger of losing their housing.
Its clients’ average age is about 52, so a fair number of them could qualify for a veteran home if it were built here, he said. “Our goal is to get as many of them back on their feet as possible, often all they need is a helping hand,”
he said. “But I think there are a number of others who I think could benefit from it.”
The Yuma state veteran home is to be built on property on Avenue 6E deeded by the city of Yuma for that purpose, though the agreement contains a clause giving it back to the city if nothing is built within three years, which would take effect around the end of this year.
The project ranks no. 44 on the VA’s most recent
priority ranking of veteran home projects, both new construction and renovations. In August the agency announced it will be revising the regulations by which the construction projects are rated, expected to help rural areas in the ranking process by making distance from other facilities part of the scoring process.