Northern Nevada veterans will finally have a place to receive treatment and the support they need with a new healthcare facility to be built in Sparks. The 14-acre plot owned by the State of Nevada, located on an old baseball field near the intersection of Kietzke Lane and Galletti Way in Sparks, will be a place where veterans can gather and receive the care they need.
With advanced funds finally pushed through the legislature, the highly anticipated home can finally be developed. The project will break ground on July 17 with an estimated opening of December 2018.
“This development has been in process since 2006. It started with a grant application for a new home approved at the federal level, but then sat on the shelf for a while,” says Nevada Department of Veteran Services Deputy Director of Wellness Wendy Simons.
Under the grant agreement, the state was responsible for paying one-third of the cost of a new veterans wellness facility, approximately $14 million of the $33 million needed with the Veterans Affairs office filling in the rest. State legislative approved the $14 million in 2015 and set it as a priority, but then the appropriations didn’t come through.
“The VA grant required a 35 percent match of $14,137,851 to qualify and receive an anticipated 65 percent in VA funding, totaling $32,033,166. In 2015, lawmakers agreed to the $14.1 million dollar match, setting the stage for 2017 session.
The match placed Nevada on a VA priority list. While Nevada continued to move up the list to receive the VA grant funding, unfortunately, the timeline on reaching the top of the list remains uncertain,” states an article sent by Simons.
Nevada was continuing to move up the priority list with anticipated funds from the VA, but instead of waiting for an unknown amount of time, Governor Brian Sandoval pushed to build the facility ASAP to save taxpayers money in inflated construction costs and providing adequate care for veterans.
“Currently, many of these veterans are being sent to other states taking them away from their loved ones and their community when they need those connections the most,” the article states.
“Every year that we wait adds $1-$2 million in additional costs, so the governor felt that it would be better to build it sooner than later to get this show on the road,” says NDVS Communications Director Terri Hendry.
In a May 20 Senate Committee on Finance and Assembly meeting, the advanced funding was approved to appropriate $226,901 in the 2018 fiscal year with $7.4 million to follow in 2019 FY. In early June, the Nevada Senate passed Bill 546 to finally be able to move forward with the veterans’ home as the state awaits federal funds to repay the investment.
Since the plans have been in place and a lot has been happening behind the scenes for 10 years now, NDVS is excited to finally initiate development and break ground on July 17.
“This is a state home. The missing link has been where a person can go for rehab and long-term care,” says Simons. She added that currently Northern Nevada veterans have to sometimes travel hundreds of miles to find a hospital that gives veterans mental or specialized care and that this new facility will bridge that gap.
“Veterans need that camaraderie and a décor that connects people with that focal point of those that have served our country,” says Simons. “This will not be like an average nursing home; it has amazing design and concept to create an engaging, veteran-centric atmosphere. It’s going to knock your socks off,” she adds with much enthusiasm.
Simons said that in her 40 years of working in healthcare that this is the most excitement she’s had for a project. “It will really help the community- this is the linkage between the veterans’ community and support,” she adds.
“There is a greater need than the facility in Reno that can handle vets right now, so this will fill a huge void,” says Hendry. Although the NDVS does work closely with the Reno location, memory and special care needs can tie up hospital beds in the limited space.
“We have a very aggressive timeline and are really counting on our construction guys to get it going,” says Simons.
The new facility will include a community center to also serve as a town hall-like gathering place for community and veterans’ events, along with parade grounds to recognize, highlight and commemorate Northern Nevada veterans.