House Bill Aims to Save Vet Homes

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MEXICO - Edward Parks and Russell Armantrout are two veterans who currently live in the Missouri Veterans Home in Mexico. Parks served in World War II and Armantrout served in the Korean War. Though they have different backgrounds, they each agree they like where they are at now.

"I wish I could be home, but I can't be, and there's no place else I'd rather be," Parks said.

"This is a nursing home, but as far as nursing homes go, I don't think you'd find a better one," Armantrout said.

In the past three years alone, $29 million dollars have been cut from funding to the Missouri Veterans Commission. Rep. Sheila Solon, (R-Blue Springs), said the commission trust fund will be bankrupt by 2013. This means homes across the state could close.

Solon sponsored legislation to fix this. House Joint Resolution 29 calls for the creation of a scratch off lottery ticket with all proceeds benefiting the Missouri Veterans Commission.

The legislation has some opponents. Jean Howard worked at the home in Mexico for 19 years and claimed the Veterans Commission mismanaged their funds.

"My opinion is they put a lot of money into the staff at the commission level and not enough or too little at the veteran's home level," Howard said.

The money collected from the Missouri State Lottery goes towards schools from St. Louis to Kansas City. For every dollar spent, 26 cents goes to education. Howard does not think that is enough, and worries the veterans ticket could have the same problem.

Solon says that should not be a concern.

"This is a separate lottery ticket, the proceeds will go to the capitol improvement trust fund and it in no way will go after the funds that go to the schools," Solon said.

But Howard does believe something must be done to help the veterans before the homes close.

The bill must pass the senate before it goes any further. Solon said this could happen in the next few weeks. If it does pass, Missouri voters must approve it on the November 2012 ballot.

To find out more about HJR 29, click here.