On Thursday, a resolution asking the United States federal government to honor veterans by funding its portion of construction costs for proposed veterans homes in Bemidji, Montevideo, and Preston was heard in the Senate’s Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs.
Over $31 million in state funding has already been secured for the three veterans homes when the 2018 bonding bill was passed, but the homes still face hurdles and deadlines before they secure their crucial federal funding match.
“Minnesota veterans in Greater Minnesota have continued to languish behind their metro counterparts when it comes to options and accessibility to veterans homes in their region,” Sen. Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks). “Often, these veterans have little choice but to leave their communities and families in search for care. These three projects will have a huge regional impact and will allow us to serve some of most underserved veterans populations in the state allowing us to create a nurturing and engaging home environment that these Minnesota’s heroes deserve.”
The 2018 bonding bill provided $12.4 million in state funding specifically for construction of the Bemidji veterans home with the construction of the home to proceed on the north side of Bemidji, on land donated by Sanford Health. The plan from there was to secure federal grants by September 2020 and to have the project completed by or before October 2025.
Currently, the closest veterans home in the region is located in Fergus Falls, a 135-mile drive from Thief River making the northcentral Minnesota’s veterans population one of the least served populations in the state. When completed, the project is anticipated to serve nearly 26,802 of Minnesota’s veterans.