Veterans share thoughts on possibility of new veterans home

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MEXICO - A plan to use up to $50 million in bonds to build a new veterans home in the state made some veterans in Mexico very happy Thursday. 

The Missouri House gave initial approval Wednesday to a measure that would send voters a constitutional amendment to approve new bonds to pay for construction of a new veterans home. 

Jack Beemer, a veteran who served in the South Pacific and Japan along with his two buddies, Bill Ehrlich and Raymond Smith, also Veterans, sat around the table at the Mexico Missouri Veterans Home and gave their input on what this would mean for the state. 

"I think we need it real bad," Beemer said. "Because there's such a waiting list, and they'll have a better chance to get in."

Elrich agrees the waiting list is a huge issue veterans deal with.

"We've got a waiting list, and it's going to get worse," Elrich said. "Down the road we've got more of these Vietnam veterans coming in. There weren't too many of these Korean Veterans but see we're coming in and disappearing, so we've got the kids coming in now."

Brenda Ezell, the administrator at the Mexico Veterans Home, said she thinks this will be beneficial in more ways than not.

"It would be fabulous for the veterans waiting," Ezell said. "There are so many on that list waiting for a bed in a skilled facility that they want to go to, and what a blessing that would be for them to have another site that would just decrease their months of waiting to get in."

There are currently seven veterans homes in the state of Missouri. 1,900 veterans are on a waiting list in the state, and 259 veterans are on the waiting list for the Mexico location. The veterans homes are designed specifically for people who are in need of 24 hour skilled nursing care. 

Ezell said one major benefit is the cost difference between staying in a veterans home and a private facility.

"It's much cheaper to stay in a veterans home, " Ezell said.

There is no set location for the possible new veterans home; however, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Lindell Shumake (R-Hannibal) said the Missouri Veteran's Commission will help decide where it would be located. 

The measure faces another House vote before heading to the Senate.