Bills to fund Veterans Care Centers advance from House Appropriations Committee

state-capitol2Legislation to provide $66.7 million in state funding for new Veterans Care Centers in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads advanced from the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday. The bills, HB1275 and HB1276, fund Virginia’s share of construction for the centers, which provide affordable, long-term nursing care for veterans. Care centers are built with 65 percent federal funding and 35 percent state funding.

Speaking about the legislation, House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said, “Virginia currently has only two veterans care centers with a combined 400 beds to serve the 781,000 veterans who reside in the Commonwealth. Legislation funding new veterans centers will meet a critical need for the men and women who have honorably served our country. Not only will the new centers give veterans with family members in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads a chance to be near loved ones, but it will also allow our existing care centers in Richmond and Salem to better meet the regional needs of their veteran population. The bipartisan support for this important legislation in the House puts us one step closer to giving veterans in Virginia the quality care that they deserve.”

Virginia currently has Veterans Care Centers in Salem and Richmond. Veterans Care Centers are state-of-the-art facilities that provide high quality, long-term care to veterans. Virginia is home to nearly 800,000 veterans but ranks near the bottom in the ratio of veterans to available care centers. Virginia first authorized funding for the Hampton Roads care center in 2006, and the Northern Virginia care center in 2008.

“Maine has a bed in a veterans care center for every 200 veterans in the state. Virginia has a bed for every 2,000 veterans,” said Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach). “Working with our local partners in Virginia Beach last year, we identified land for the new veterans center to serve Hampton Roads. These two new regional veterans care centers in the population centers of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads will make it easier for those who have served to get the care they need.”

The Virginia Beach City Council voted last year to reserve 15 to 25 acres of city land as the site of a proposed Veterans Care Center in Hampton Roads. House Bill 1275, introduced by House Majority Leader Kirk Cox and Delegate Chris Stolle, dedicates funding for a proposed 230-bed long-term care facility to be located in the Hampton Roads area.

Through the efforts of Del. Rich Anderson (R-Prince William) two sites have been identified for a 230-bed Northern Virginia Care Center, one in Innovation Park, Prince William County and another site on George Mason University’s Prince William County Campus.

Delegate Rich Anderson said, “There are about 200,000 veterans living in Northern Virginia alone, yet a Manassas resident faces a two hour drive to visit a family member or loved one in the nearest Virginia Veterans Care Center. Moving this legislation forward puts us that much closer to breaking ground and living up to our promise to be the most veteran-friendly state in the country.”

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