Like a soldier undaunted, the quest for a local veterans home marches on.
Only now instead of the home looking like a mirage on some distant horizon, it’s conceivable that ground could be broken in less than two years.
That’s the most recent assessment from two-time Purple Heart recipient Len Crosby of Post Falls. Crosby leads a battalion of never-say-die local optimists who clearly won’t rest until the veterans home goes up on Post Falls property at Riverbend Park, generously donated by the Jacklin family.
Why the dramatically improved timeline? Part of it is due to an infusion of money from the federal government for veterans homes. Congress recently OK’d the FY 2019 Veterans Affairs budget, which was signed into law by President Trump on Sept. 21. From Idaho’s delegation, Sen. Jim Risch, Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson all voted for that budget. Rep. Raul Labrador voted against it.
The VA budget includes a 6X increase in money for such facilities. These projects require 65 percent federal funding with states kicking in the remaining 35 percent. Idaho, which already has veterans homes in Lewiston, Boise and Pocatello, has committed its share of funding for the Post Falls project.
But a lot of the momentum goes right back to the people who have been relentless in their pursuit of the home, which is likely to provide 56 beds to veterans who need full-time care and don’t want to be far from families and friends. Crosby is at the top of the list of movers and shakers. Current Mayor Ron Jacobson remains steadfast in his support, as does former Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin, who in 2015 was named Post Falls Veteran of the Year for his ongoing efforts to secure a state veterans home in his community. Legislators from the late Frank Henderson to the young Luke Malek have hauled the veterans home freight, as have others. What a tremendous accomplishment it will be when all that pulling is finally over.
North Idaho holds its head high in supporting every effort to take care of those who have given so much for their country. We applaud Sen. Risch, Sen. Crapo and Rep. Simpson for doing their part on the budget and hope they can help ensure Kootenai County is near the top of the veterans home priority list.