House Republican leaders discuss veterans care centers legislation

newspaperRep. Randy Forbes (R-4th), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-1st), Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Del. Rich Anderson (R-Manassas) and Del. Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) held a press conference today to discuss the veterans care center legislation before the House and to discuss the next stage of action from the federal government.  Legislation to provide $66.7 million in state funding for new Veterans Care Centers in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads will come to the House floor for a vote on Tuesday. The bills, HB1275 and HB1276, fund Virginia’s share of construction for the centers, which provide affordable, long-term nursing care for veterans.

While the total state construction share is $66.7 million, Veterans Care Centers are built with 65 percent federal funding and 35 percent state funding. The total construction cost including the federal match for the two centers will be $190 million. The centers would result in about 600 new jobs in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, with operational costs paid for through federal funding.

Majority Leader Kirk Cox said, “This legislation is the culmination of a more than decade-long effort in the General Assembly to build additional veterans care centers to provide long-term care for those who have served. The House of Delegates and the Senate are united in support for these needed facilities with more than 100 legislators signed as co-patrons for each bill. I look forward to working with our Congressional Delegation to move these projects forward at the federal level.”

Speaking about the legislation, Rep. Randy Forbes said, “While we will never be able to fully repay Virginia’s veterans for their service to our country, we can all work to ensure that they receive the care they have earned. There is a clear and pressing need for greater capacity to care for our Virginia veterans over the long term, and the passage of this legislation marks an important step toward meeting that need. The new care centers in both Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia are essential to keeping our commitment to this state’s heroes. The state has done their part; I will be working with my colleagues in Congress to do what we can to get Washington to do their part.”

Rep. Forbes and Rep. Wittman have worked closely with Delegates Cox, Anderson and Stolle as they lead the General Assembly effort to pass legislation and funding for the two facilities.  Del. Chris Stolle worked with the Virginia Beach City Council to reserve 15 to 25 acres of city land as the site of a proposed Veterans Care Center in Hampton Roads. Del. Rich Anderson has led the effort in Northern Virginia to identify two sites 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.

“Thanks to the efforts of Del. Chris Stolle and Del. Rich Anderson in identifying sites for these new veterans centers and the legislation to fund the state share, Virginia will be ready to proceed with construction as soon as these centers receive federal approval,” said Rep. Rob Wittman. “Virginia currently has fewer veterans center beds per veteran than almost any other state. It’s time to give all of Virginia’s veterans the quality care they have earned and deserve.”

Del. Chris Stolle said, “When compared with Virginia, Oklahoma has half as many veterans, three times as many veterans care centers and more than three times as many beds in those centers. With federal action, we can build the veterans care centers to meet our needs in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.”

Del. Rich Anderson said, “The construction of these care centers will mean hundreds of Virginia veterans can receive higher-quality long-term care closer to loved ones. These two new facilities in Virginia’s largest population centers, with a combined 460 beds in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, will also allow our existing centers to do a better job of serving veterans in their regions.”

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