The first residents of the new state Walla Walla Veterans Home began moving in Wednesday, just in time for a grand opening ceremony on Saturday.
The $34 million nursing care facility has 80 private rooms for residents expected from 10 nearby counties, including Benton and Franklin.
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee cut the ribbon to ceremonially open the new home with the help of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
Those who saw violence and tumult from Iwo Jima to Pleiku to Fallujah “are now going to have the peace and dignity of the Walla Walla Veterans Home,” Inslee said.
“It is fitting that this home is built on the historic grounds of Fort Walla Walla,” McMorris Rodgers said.
The new home is a way to show gratitude to those who have served the nation and see that they get the care they deserve, she said.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., worked to get about $22 million in federal money for the project and the state of Washington contributed about $12 million.
Although it is owned by the state, it is located on the campus of the Walla Walla Veterans Affairs Medical Center, a federal facility.
The new complex was built using a small house model. Residents will live in eight individual houses, each with 10 private bedrooms and bathrooms and an open kitchen, dining and living area.
The facility was designed so that every veteran can “smell the bacon when they wake up in the morning,” Inslee said after a tour.
One of the houses will be reserved for veterans with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs said earlier that it will be the last of the eight houses to open.
Services include short-term rehabilitation, long-term nursing care and hospice care. Those eligible include honorably discharged veterans living in Washington state, their spouses and surviving spouses, and Gold Star parents.
The 10 counties the home was built to serve have about 50,000 veterans, including about 20,000 who are 65 or older.
Operating costs are expected to be paid for primarily through Medicaid, VA per diem, Medicare and local contributions. Some disabled veterans may have all of their nursing home care paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The complex is expected to employ about 100 people.
The three other state veterans homes are in Orting and Retsil in western Washington and in Spokane.
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