State on target with veterans homes plan

We generally like what’s being discussed above and below the bridge relative to improving the delivery and overall quality of veterans’ care in the state of Michigan. Presently, the state operates two large-scale veterans homes, one in Grand Rapids and the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette.

Talk is the Grand Rapids home, which 2016 inspections found was problematic, would be closed in favor of construction of several smaller homes in the Lower Peninsula. Jacobetti would be replaced, although it’s unclear by what and when. The overall goal is to improve care to veterans through decentralization.

The new, small homes, which would replace the hospital-like institutional buildings currently in use, reportedly may house 10-14 veterans, each with individual rooms and bathrooms, surrounding common recreation and living areas. Staffing in the smaller homes — either state employees or privatized workers — hasn’t been determined.

“If that were to come to fruition, we would be providing care much closer to where the veterans live now, and their families are going to be closer to them,” James Redford, who Republican Gov. Rick Snyder named to lead the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, said in a recent Associated Press story. He noted Snyder told him: “Fix the homes.”

AP also reported that the state applied for roughly $66 million in federal funding to help build a new home in the Detroit area and to replace and downsize the one in Grand Rapids. A third of the state’s 640,000 veterans live in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Additionally, Snyder has already OK’d a $42 million state match for the two projects.

These are projects that are years off. The state is just starting to discuss what might happen and under what circumstances. We’d recommend state officials take it slow and easy, bringing all of the stakeholders into the process before substantive decisions are made. After all, these are our veterans we’re talking about. Let’s do it right from the beginning.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette