Monday, March 2, 2015

Video: Panhandle Push for a New Idaho Veterans Home

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 10:01 AM

The effort to build a new Idaho State Veterans Home in the Panhandle region is gaining some steam.

The Idaho Division of Veterans Services operates three veterans homes in Boise, Lewiston and Pocatello. The largest, in Boise, offers 36 beds in its residential unit, 131 beds in its nursing care unit and 17 beds in its Alzheimer's unit. The Lewiston and Pocatello homes each offer 66 beds.

The 2013 Idaho Legislature funded a $250,000 feasibility study to see if there is  a need for a new veterans home in northern Idaho. It's estimated that there are nearly 19,000 veterans in Idaho's Panhandle, but the closest veterans home is in Lewiston.

"The problem with Lewiston is that's two-and-a-half hours away," Kootenai County Veterans Council Secretary Sandy Doutre told KREM-TV. "So that means that if my veteran ends up going to Lewiston, I either have to pick up and move, or I have to drive two-and-a-half hours to see him."

Doutre is the wife of a Navy veteran who suffers from traumatic brain injury and diabetes.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Idaho Legislature is considering a measure from Coeur d'Alene Republican Sen. Bob Nonini that would earmark nearly $11 million for a new northern Idaho veterans home. If approved, the state would provide matching funds to build the home. The U.S. Veterans Administration would cover 65 percent of the overall construction cost.  The owners of a Post Falls commerce park have already agreed to donate six-and-a-half acres for the home.

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