Enterprise site for new veterans' home

The proposal by the city of Enterprise was selected to be the site of the state’s new veterans home.

At the Alabama Board of Veterans Affairs meeting held Friday, Jan. 3 in Montgomery, Enterprise was chosen for the fifth state veterans home.

The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs currently operates the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City, Tut Fann State Veterans Home in Huntsville, William F. Green State Veterans Home in Bay Minette and the Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home in Pell City. They collectively provide care to 704 veterans with a staff of some 900.

The unanimous decision in October 2018 by the State Board of Veterans Affair to build a fifth veterans home came after a 2018 feasibility study commissioned by ADVA to determine the long-term health care needs of veterans in the state. The study determined that it should be in Southeast Alabama.

ADVA plans to build a single-story 182,000 square foot facility to provide skilled care for eligible veterans. Once at full capacity, the home is projected to employ approximately 250 people and the projected annual payroll—based on the average of the existing four state veterans’ homes—is from $7.5 million to $8.75 million, according to the ADVA newsletter, “The Alabama Veteran.”

The official Request for Site Selection Proposals was distributed July 15, 2019 in the designated service area that includes Coffee, Dale, Barbour, Butler, Covington, Crenshaw, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike Counties. Most areas within those counties are beyond a 60-minute drive time from a state veterans home, the feasibility study found.

The RSSP sought a minimum of 27 acres of land to construct the $65 million 175-bed facility. The proposals received from municipalities and counties were evaluated in terms of five factors, which included the size and location; transportation accessibility; workforce; specialized healthcare services within proximity of the site; and any additional relevant information.

The Veterans Homes Committee reviewed 12 site proposals submitted by jurisdictions in the Wiregrass Region based on five factors—favorability of the plot of land proposed; transportation accessibility; workforce availability; specialized healthcare services within proximity of the site; and additional factors identified by the proposer, according to a news release from the veterans’ affairs board following the vote. 

“The committee met this morning and voted to recommend Enterprise as the site for the new veterans’ home to the SBVA. The SBVA convened its quarterly meeting later this afternoon and unanimously voted to accept the Veterans Homes Committee’s recommendation,” according to the news release.

The location consists of a donation of 108 acres between Highway 84 and Highway 167. Coffee County was identified as having the largest veteran population projections in the Feasibility Study, while other counties show a reduction in the veteran population. Enterprise has a workforce to support the home as well as medical services available to support the needs of the veterans, according to the news release.

“This was a difficult selection process, as many communities submitted excellent proposals for the new veterans’ home. We are excited about this project, as this location will give access to many underserved veterans,” said Chad Richmond, SBVA vice-chairman. “The committee team worked diligently and fairly through this process, and I’m confident that our selection of Enterprise will provide the setting and care our veterans deserve.”

The new veterans home should open by 2023.

In order to build the home, ADVA must apply for a federal Veterans Administration construction grant. The VA has a 65 percent match program that provides states with a funding mechanism for building skilled nursing centers with the state providing 35 percent of the funds.

The feasibility study projected that 1,440 veterans would require a nursing home bed by the year 2045, according to “The Alabama Veteran” newsletter. “Currently, there are 704 beds in Alabama’s four veterans’ homes, leaving a 736 veteran nursing home bed deficit.”

All interested parties were required to let the ADVA know of their intent to submit a proposal by Aug. 2, 2019 with the final proposals physically received by the department no later than Aug. 15, 2019.

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