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Eye On Boise

Allowing vets’ surviving parents to live in vets’ homes stirs debate in House

Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, spoke out in the House today against HB 371, which would allow parents of a military member who is killed while serving to live in Idaho's veterans' homes; federal law now allows states to offer that option. "We have a ... wave of veterans that's going to be hitting our state veterans' homes in the next 10 to 20 years," said Hagedorn, a retired naval officer. If they arrive and "cannot find a place ... because we have non-veterans in the rooms in those homes, I don't think that's appropriate," he said. "I think the state veterans money that we spend today should focus on the state's veterans. And as much as I appreciate the sacrifice of the veterans' families that have lost a loved one, there are many, many other alternatives, and I think we should focus our veterans' homes solely on our veterans."

Several other lawmakers raised questions about the bill; its sponsor, Rep. Carlos Bilbao, R-Emmett, couldn't answer them. "All we are trying to do is to bring this in line with the federal government," he told the House.

The bill was proposed by Idaho's Division of Veterans Services, which operates the homes; under current state law, just veterans honorably discharged or their spouses may be admitted to veterans' homes. Its statement of purpose notes that admission of non-veterans to veterans' homes would continue to be subject to caps set by the U.S. Department of Veterans Services.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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