Members of the Minnesota Legislative Advisory Commission (LAC) sent a letter to Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans last week approving the agency’s plans to spend pending federal grant funds for the construction of three veterans homes in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston.

“A year and a half ago, the Minnesota Legislature secured the state’s share of funding for three new veterans homes in Minnesota honoring our commitment to serve our state’s veterans,” said Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids. “Over the past decade, we have seen all three communities work tirelessly to get these veterans homes funded. Their passionate commitment has played an instrumental role in getting these projects done. Now, with the state dollars secured, the only hurdle that remains is securing the federal funding. While we won’t have a definitive answer on that front until January, it is critical that we continue to exhaust all avenues of support to ensure that we honor our promise to Minnesota veterans.”

In 2018, the legislature passed $32 million in state funding for the construction of new veterans homes in Bemidji, Montevideo, and Preston. Combined with local matching funds, the state’s contribution represents approximately 35 percent of the total construction costs. In March, after extensive community input and fundraising, the state submitted its grant application to secure the remaining federal funds. The pre-design stage is currently underway for each planned home, with the homes expected to be fully operational and occupied by the end of 2021 in Bemidji and Montevideo, and 2022 in Preston. The list of homes receiving federal funds will be released in January.

“As I’ve stated before, the Bemidji project is absolutely critical for the veterans in our region,” Eichorn added. “If you account for all the veterans identified in our 16 contiguous counties, you’ll notice that our region has a higher percentage of older veterans than anywhere else the state. As that population continues to age, they will only require more support. It’s unfair to them and their families that as their needs increase we continue to hold them in a virtual dead zone for care options with the nearest veterans home being over two hours away. It’s time that we all get this done.”

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