After several years of strategic planning and bipartisan collaboration, the State of Michigan officially broke ground Friday on a state-of-the-art facility on the campus of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
The 128-bed home, which will replace aging facilities on the 93-acre Grand Rapids campus, continues the legacy of care to veterans begun here in 1885. Representing a combined state and federal investment of nearly $63 million, the new home is part of a commitment by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) and the Michigan Veterans’ Facility Authority (MVFA) to modernize and increase the number of long-term care facilities for veterans and their spouses here in Michigan.
Today’s event comes on the heels of a groundbreaking last fall for a new veterans home in Macomb County. Both homes are expected to open by the end of 2021.
“Today’s groundbreaking is an exciting milestone as we continue to work toward modernizing and improving our long-term care services for Michigan’s veterans,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “This investment will serve not only our current veterans, but also future generations who have yet to serve. It demonstrates that Michigan commends and thanks these brave men and women for their selfless service to our state and nation.”
About 53 percent of Michigan’s 589,300 veterans are age 65 and older, compared to 47 percent nationally, fueling the need for improved and expanded skilled nursing and other specialized care that will be one of the hallmarks of these new facilities.
The new veterans facilities will be more home-like rather than the current institutional setting. The facilities feature single-story buildings arranged in a neighborhood setting, with a private bedroom and bathroom for each resident. This new model follows the industry standard for construction in both the public and private sectors.
“Our veterans have made countless sacrifices as they served in our armed forces and deserve to have a modern, home-like environment to reside in when they no longer are able to remain in their private homes,” said Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers, Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA). “MVAA and MFVA, as integral parts of the DMVA team, are committed to providing outstanding care to the resident members who reside in our facilities. This is our driving motivation in all that we do and will continue to drive us in the years ahead.”
The seeds for the new homes were sewn in 2016 when an MVAA-convened workgroup consisting of veterans groups, advocates, lawmakers and health care and financial experts released a report calling for up to seven new homes to provide long-term care for veterans throughout the state.
Following the workgroup’s recommendations, legislation with strong bi-partisan support was passed in 2016 to create the MVFA, which is governed by a nine-member board appointed by the governor and charged with building and operating the new veterans homes.
A critical component in moving forward with construction on the first two homes was applying to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for funding. This could be pursued only once the State of Michigan had demonstrated that it too was willing and had identified funds to support the construction.
The State of Michigan provided about $49 million for the two facilities ($22 million for the Grand Rapids home and $30 million for the Macomb County home), which leveraged a federal investment of nearly $87 million ($41 million in Grand Rapids and $46 million in Macomb County).