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Legislature secures more funding for Bemidji Veterans Home

A bill recently passed the Minnesota Legislature that included $26 million for three veterans homes to be built in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston.

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A rendering of the future Bemidji Veterans Home is displayed during the project’s groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, near the Sanford Health campus. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
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BEMIDJI — The Minnesota Legislature has passed a bill that includes funding for the Bemidji Veterans Home with near-unanimous bipartisan support.

Signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday, May 10, the bill includes funding for three veterans homes across Minnesota in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston.

The homes will serve the population of over 27,000 veterans living in northwest Minnesota, more than 75% of whom are over the age of 55.

The current bill’s funding includes $26 million for the veterans homes, $16 million of which is set aside for furnishings and other additions to complete the three homes.

Plans for the homes have been in the works since 2006 and first received $33 million in state funding in 2018, which was further supplemented by federal funding in 2021.

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“Veterans have been a top priority of mine in the House, and it’s good to see overwhelming support for them in the legislature,” said District 5A Rep. Matt Bliss.

The Bemidji Veterans Home, which is currently under construction after breaking ground in August 2021, will house 72 veterans and is expected to open in 2023.

“I am grateful our northern Minnesota veterans will be able to be taken care of in this outstanding new facility,” said District 5 Sen. Justin Eichorn. “Our veterans fought for our country and they deserve to be honored.”

The bill received bipartisan support, passing unanimously in the Senate and with a vote of 122-1 in the House.

“This bill makes good on our duty to protect and support our veterans during and after their service, and demonstrates that we can come together in a bipartisan way to honor the sacrifices of our veterans and their families,” Walz said.

The importance of bipartisan support was echoed by Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who also reaffirmed the state’s commitment to veterans.

“The overwhelming bipartisan support this bill received demonstrates that our veterans are and will continue to be a priority at the Capitol,” Flanagan said.

The bill was also supported by the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, which has been managing the veterans home projects.

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“This support allows us to continue serving those (who) have served,” said DVA Commissioner Larry Herke. “Minnesota’s more than 304,000 veterans know that their voices were heard and their service honored with the historic passing of the first-ever Veterans Omnibus Bill.”

The cost for the Bemidji Veterans Home is an estimated $45.5 million, and the center will include four separate sections with 18 private rooms each.

It will also include a nursing center and an area for recreational therapy and will incorporate outdoor pathways and space for community gatherings.

The home will be built to provide long and short-term care for eligible veterans, their spouses and Gold Star parents who need a skilled nurse or domiciliary care.

“I am the son, father and brother of veterans. I am a veteran,” said District 2A Rep. Matt Grossell. “The sacrifice of veterans is deserving of every dollar we can provide.”

For more information on the Bemidji project, as well as the homes under construction in Montevideo and Preston, visit the MDVA’s website .

Nicole Ronchetti is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on local government and community health.
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