Governor Scott requests $7.4M for new VA nursing homes
Governor Rick Scott is asking Florida lawmakers for money to build two new nursing homes for veterans. During a visit today to the Clyde Lassen State Veterans’ Nursing Home in St. Augustine, Scott announced he will ask for $7.4 million to build the state’s eighth and ninth homes.
Frank Torres is a political analyst and Iraq war veteran. He says the homes would support VA clinics and the aging veterans they serve. But he anticipates Scott's proposal will meet resistance.
“The governor is asking for quite a bunch of money, which could raise some objection at the state level with the mostly republican and fiscally conservative legislature, but for a population growing as fast as veterans, this is a terrific opportunity for them," Torres said in an interview.
Other veterans’ advocates support the move, but call it a temporary solution for dealing with low income and homeless veterans.
Christie Bhagelow, veterans project manager for Community Legal Services of Mid Florida, says the proposal could help many Vietnam veterans in need. However, she believes more money could go toward preventive services—like legal aid.
“Let’s make people’s lives a little easier. Preferably earlier rather than later,” she said in an interview.
Bhagelow gives legal help to veterans in twelve counties and says their biggest challenges are low income and homelessness. She calls nursing homes a "last resort."
“A good way to keep veterans out of nursing homes is to make sure they’re getting their VA pension or disability benefits because that would allow them to stay in their homes and to have financial support from the VAs.”
Governor Scott’s proposal is part of his “Keep Florida Working” plan, which proposes raising spending in education and health sectors for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
The state currently owns and operates six nursing homes for veterans ages 65 and older.
Groundbreaking on a seventh nursing home is St. Lucie County is slated for some time this year.