RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – In 2014, the Department of Agriculture gave the property behind the Jackie Withrow Hospital to be used for a veterans nursing home. In 2016, the legislature promised to make it happen and use excise tax from fireworks to fund it. The tax did not make as much money as intended, and now that lot still sits empty.
On Thursday, Raleigh County Delegates Mick Bates, Brandon Steele, Jeff Pack and Chris Toney announced that securing funding for a veterans nursing home in Beckley is top priority in this upcoming legislative session.
“It’s gone unfounded and we simply need to fund it, and we have a plan to do that without raising taxes, without taking money from other programs and fulfill the promise that we made to the veterans,” Del. Steele (R-29) said.
And that plan involves putting forward an supplemental appropriations bill that would request $14 million from lottery surplus, money local delegates feel they could get very soon.
“If the state was to come up with about $14 million dollars, we could bring in about $26 million dollars in federal money to build this facility which would house a minimum of about 120 veterans that are currently either housed in the community, not being housed at all or having to travel to Clarksburg to receive services,” Del. Bates (D-30) said.
But they say they have to act fast to make sure they get the federal money before any budget cuts are made at the national level. Even though there could be some federal funding coming in, the hospital will be run by the state and not the VA.
“The way it is set up presently, it will be set up exactly like the Clarksburg nursing home. It is not a federal agency. It’s not a part of the VA system. It is a state hospital for veterans,” Del. Steele said.
When the delegates return in January, it is going to be a first-day mission for them to secure those funds and make good on the promises made.
“We say every year that veterans are important to us. We keep talking about veterans veterans veterans, but really, what happens is when it comes to money we don’t show it, but it’s about time we showed it and actually care about our veterans and get this thing done,” Del. Bates said.
Right now the only veterans nursing home in the state is in Clarksburg, and that will be the model if and when one comes to Beckley.