Gov. Little's Leading Idaho plan includes a $75 million investment in care for veterans

Posted at 12:49 PM, Jan 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-23 14:51:32-05

BOISE, Idaho — Governor Brad Little's Leading Idaho Plan calls for investing $75 million to refurbish state veteran's homes to provide each person with their own room and bathroom while creating other safety measures to help care for Idaho's vets.

The Idaho Division of Veterans Services runs three Idaho State Veterans Homes one in Boise, Pocatello and Lewiston with one more home being built in Post Falls.

"Right now our veterans share bedrooms and they share bathrooms in those facilities," said the chief administrator of the Idaho Division of Veterans Services Mark Tschampl. "For us that $75 million is the single biggest quality of life improvement that we can actually make for our veterans that we take care of in those skilled nursing homes.”

If the legislature approves this funding it would be the largest investment in veterans care in state history and the renovations would also include putting in new HVAC systems to circulate air and anti-microbial surfaces to create a safer environment.

"It basically jumps us light years ahead in terms of being able to protect the vulnerable populations in those homes and making sure we provide the best care we can for those veterans," said Tschampl.

These improvements would also help guard against infectious diseases and perhaps that's more important now more than ever as veterans and the staff were forced to be very careful these past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It has been very hard not just on our residents that live in those homes but also on our skilled nursing staff," said Tschampl. "They are heroes, the amount of extra work they have put in and the level of care that they have had to take to keep COVID out of those homes is extensive."

The Idaho Division of Veterans Services is regulated by Veterans Affairs who will pay for 65 percent of the improvements on these homes, but the state has to cover the remaining 35 percent and that's where the $75 million figure comes from, but it would be the largest amount of funds ever given to a single agency according to Tschampl.

"Timeline is we have to do our feasibility studies right now to design what the new facilities would look like, get an estimated cost on rebuilding those facilities and then submit those as a grant program through the VA," said Tschampl. "As we get approved for those programs then we can start building."

In Governor Little's State of the State he detailed that he would like to double scholarships for the Idaho National Guard to provide additional incentives for young men and women to sign up, he also touted the investment into the Idaho State Veterans Homes.

"Our veterans have done so much for us and they deserve it," said Little.