The Hastings Veterans Home is “past its useful life.”
Those were the words of Michael Anderson of the Minnesota Dept. of Veterans Affairs Healthcare Domiciliary Program. Anderson toured the facility Thursday morning with Gov. Tim Walz, US Sen. Amy Klobuchar and elected officials, including Mayor Mary Fasbender, Dakota County Commissioner Mike Slavik, State Sen. Karla Bighman and State Rep. Tony Jurgens.
A plan in the state bonding bill in the legislature calls for spending $60 million in state money to go along with federal funding for a $170 million plan to replace six of the nine buildings at the Hastings Veterans Home, 1200 18th St. E.
Many buildings on the campus were built in the early 1900s. The state has operated the facility, which serves 115 veterans, since 1978. Prior to that, it was a state mental hospital.
“In as much as the people that worked here have done everything they possibly can to help our vets, we know our vets deserve better,” Klobachar said.
In one residential building on the tour, it was pointed out that 16 veterans must share a common restroom with two showers and three toilets. Heating and plumbing systems are in disrepair.
All rooms would have private bathrooms under the bonding proposal.
'We all want to be good stewards of taxpayers' money, but if you go out and ask folks in the communities across Minnesota if we should spend money taking care of our veterans, it's about the only thing that polls at 100 percent,' said Gov. Walz.
The renovated facility would be able to house 140 veterans.
Mayor Fasbender commented, “I was fortunate to stand alongside Governor Walz, Senator Klobuchar, Senator Bigham, Representative Tony Jurgens, and Dakota County Commissioner Mike Slavik to hear first-hand from administrator Mike Anderson and Commissioner Herke on a tour of our local Veterans Home that hopefully there will be a new facility for our veterans who have selflessly served for us.”
Commented Bigham, “This project is a true collaboration of all levels of government.
We saw firsthand the immense and immediate need for improvements so that the Hastings Veterans Home is a place of comfort for those who served our country. Ensuring this project is funded will provide a living environment for the veterans that gives stability, meaning, and supports their whole wellbeing.”
Last April, Klobuchar secured significant federal funding to help the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs construct three new veterans’ homes in Montevideo, Preston, and Bemidji.
“I have legislation requesting nearly $60 million in state funding and $111 million in federal funds to replace the current facility on the Hastings campus,” said Jurgens. “When you take a tour, it’s very clear that the buildings have outlived their usefulness. Our veterans deserve better.
“We have bipartisan support from local, county, state, and federal officials to make this project a reality, and I’m hopeful we can move this project forward.
“The House capital investment bill is scheduled to be unveiled in the coming weeks. Governor Walz also has the Hastings Veterans Home near the top of his priority list, so I am hopeful we will be hearing good news on this project in the very near future.”
Photo courtesy of Tony Jurgens.