A place for veterans to call home

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Editorial: Oct. 11, 2012

ISSUE: Proposed veterans nursing home
OUR VIEW: The time is right

One of the most difficult situations an individual or family ever faces is realizing a need for a nursing home and finding a suitable facility.

Beyond medical care are issues of cleanliness, friendliness and amenities. A competent staff is required, but a compassionate staff is just as important in day-to-day care of patients and their families. 

Soon area veterans and their families will have another option when faced with such life-altering decisions. Construction is expected to start this spring on a veterans’ nursing home tucked next to Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central and Fort Knox. Situated on 185 acres donated by the Department of Defense, the project is expected to take up to two years complete once ground is broken.

HardinCounty has been pursuing a veterans’ nursing home since the early 1990s when the state completed Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, which can accommodate 285 residents. Hazard and Hanson each have facilities with 120 beds, the same size as the proposed local facility.

With the high concentration of retired veterans in the area, one could argue a larger facility is in order. But the last remaining hurdle before construction starts explains why the plans are modest: The state must come up with nearly $12 million for its part of the expected $33.5 million cost; money that it doesn’t have.

Ken Lucas, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, said the nursing home is popular with policy makers and legislators in Frankfort, and he is confident the money will be there when it’s needed.

“I think, by hook or by crook, we’ll sort it out some way,” Hill said.

After all, no politician wants to be viewed as failing to support veterans. It may not be easy to find the money, but we share Hill’s optimism.

The facility is expected to have a staff of 170, making it one of the largest jobs projects in the county in a number of years. That alone is something to cheer about. But to be the kind of facility that reflects this area’s dedication to veterans, community involvement is required, too. We’re confident there will be a continuing supply of volunteers, our most valuable resource.

While long overdue and perhaps too small for the demand, this facility is good news for all.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.