Open house gives community members first glimpse at Bemidji Veterans Home
The open house featured informational material on the new Bemidji Veteran Home’s design, which will include 72 private beds for residents.
BEMIDJI — Community members got the chance to meet the leadership team of the Bemidji Veterans Home during an open house on Friday and hear some updates on the project’s progress.
Held at a temporary office located in the Westridge Commerce Center in Bemidji while the home itself is still under construction, the open house featured informational material on the home’s design, which will include 72 private beds for residents.
“It’s a pretty incredible space,” said Shane Gustafson, the Beltrami County veterans service officer, “It’s really going to be a warm environment for everybody to come in, rather than the traditional sterile nursing homes of the past.”
The construction on the home recently reached 70% completion and assuming things continue on schedule, it’s hoped to be finished this summer. The first residents are expected to be admitted in September.
“It’s going to be a beautiful building, I’ve never really seen a nursing home that looks like this,” shared Dani Churness, the home’s director of nursing. “It’s going to be a great thing for the veterans and their spouses.”
The home’s design and progress is also exciting for the area’s veterans themselves, many of whom have been actively involved in advocating and fundraising for the project for years.
“This has been in the making since they built one in Fergus Falls, and right after that I started working on getting one in Bemidji,” said John Reuter, a veteran and member of the In-Country Motorcycle Club. “Everybody worked really hard to get this here.”
The Bemidji Veterans Home, once completed, will be the only veterans nursing home between Fergus Falls and Silver Bay in Minnesota, and will help veterans in the area stay closer to their families and communities.
“That’s a big area without anything (right now),” Churness explained. “This will be huge for anyone who wants to stay in their community.”
The home will also help provide support for veterans who otherwise might not have the means for a privately owned nursing home.
“There are veterans here that live paycheck to paycheck, and they’d have no future if this wasn’t here,” said Joe Baron, another veteran who attended the open house. “This represents a real blanket of security for them.”
To be accepted for admission at the Bemidji Veterans Home, residents must be:
- Discharged under honorable conditions from any branch of the U.S. armed forces and a current resident of Minnesota who served 181 consecutive days on active duty, unless discharged earlier because of a disability incurred in the line of duty.
- The spouse of an eligible veteran who is at least 55 years old and meets residency requirements.
- Able to demonstrate a medical or clinical need for skilled nursing care.
County Veterans Service Officers are available to assist future residents with the admission and application process. Admissions inquiries can be emailed to NewHomesAdmissions@state.mn.us.
While the leadership of the veterans home isn’t worried about filling the home’s 72 beds, it is pushing to recruit employees.
“The biggest need is going to be people who are going to work in the veterans home,” Gustafson said. “The veterans are going to be there, it’s having the workforce there for them. So that’s the big push.”
In total, the veterans home is expected to need around 160 full- and part-time staff members, including nursing, food service, building maintenance, human resources and more.
So far, hiring has been focused on leadership roles, and many of the frontline positions will be open for applications come early summer. Job openings will be posted at mn.gov/careers. Employment inquiries can be emailed to NewHomesJobs@state.mn.us.
“I’m just really excited to get to know people,” Churness shared. “That’s the biggest thing I’m looking forward to, getting to know the veterans and making this their home.”