ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz announced that all three of Minnesota’s proposed new State Veterans Homes projects, to be located in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston, will receive federal funding this year.
The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently released the State Home Construction Grants Fiscal Year 2021 Conditional Approvals.
“As a veteran myself, I recognize the obligation we have as a state and a country to deliver on the benefits our veterans have earned,” said Governor Walz. “We are pleased to be able to expand our State Veterans Homes into three new communities to serve our elderly veterans living in all corners on the state.”
In 2018, the Minnesota Legislature allocated $33 million toward the cost of the projects. The funding plan is a combination of federal-granted (65 percent), state-bonded and community-provided monies (35 percent).
“We appreciate the Minnesota Legislature’s past support of our Veterans and these projects,” said Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) Commissioner Larry Herke. “The approval of federal funds will allow us to now move forward with construction. The planning and design process is nearly complete and now with this exciting news, those final touches can be made.”
Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, helped secure the necessary state funding in 2018 and released the following statement.
“This is fantastic news for our veterans and our entire region,” Sen. Eichorn said. “Getting this project built has been one of my top priorities since joining the legislature. A lot of great work has been done to get this project funded and I am beyond delighted to play a part in helping support our veterans. Our veterans deserve to be honored for the tremendous sacrifices they have made for our country.”
Minnesota Rep. Matt Bliss, R-Pennington, who co-authored a House bill to construct a veterans home in Bemidji, said people have been working for more than a decade to bring a veterans home to Bemidji and it is satisfying to move ever-closer to seeing shovels in the ground.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am for veterans in our area who will be able to do their final tour of duty near their families. They have sacrificed so much for us and we owe it to them to provide the services they need. This has been a major community effort and I can’t thank people enough who have worked so hard to make this happen,” Bliss declared.
The three new Minnesota Veterans Homes projects are slated to receive more than $80 million in federal VA funds. By June 30, MDVA will complete the Federal VA grant application process to obtain the funds.
MDVA leaders have worked closely with local elected officials and veterans’ stakeholders on the planning for the new Veterans Homes. The communities of Bemidji, Montevideo, and Preston have been very engaged in the process, donating land for the building sites and raising additional funds to support amenities for the new homes.
• In Bemidji, the proposed facility reflects a northwoods cabin design for the public spaces as well as the 72 residential units that are split into two sections, avoiding long institutional-feeling hallways.
• The Montevideo facility blends into the local prairie style environment with 72 residential units as well as a large community meeting room.
• In Preston, the facility will enjoy fantastic views from its hilltop location that includes 54 residential units.
Construction could begin as early as early fall 2021 with an anticipated 18-month construction schedule.