Mo. House, Senate Approve Funding to Keep Homes for Veterans Open

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WARRENSBURG, Mo. - From catered dinners to laundry service to afternoon Bingo, these are the services Prince Gilbert Revelle said make his home fit for a king.

"I'd like to see every veteran that served in the service who was honorably discharged to be able to come in here," said Prince, a Navy Seaman First Class.

The 85-year-old WWII and Korean War veteran, who prefers his nickname Bud, moved to the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg seven years ago when he became too feeble to live on his own.

"They gave that part of their lives to protect us and be in the service," said Bud.  "To me it's a pay back.  I think we deserve this treatment we're getting.  It's good."

But Bud's home and the six others like it in Missouri faced severe cutbacks due to $30 million in budget cuts over the last three years.

"According to the governor's recommendations, both the home fund and the trust fund were going to be bankrupt in 2013, forcing the state to potentially close our veterans homes," said Rep. Sheila Solon, who represents Blue Springs, Grain Valley and Oak Grove.  "They take care of our veterans.  We needed to come up with a dedicated revenue stream for those fund."

Solon said she and other lawmakers scrambled to find a solution by the end of the legislative session which ends Friday.  The House and Senate decided to fund the homes with a $1 per patron fee paid for by casinos.

"The Mexico home needs to be updated right now; it's not meeting federal regulations," said Solon.  "We have 1,600 veterans currently on a waiting list to get into the veterans homes, so if we could build that back up again with the dedicated revenue  stream, hopefully we could build another home to take care of our veterans."

Richard Welch, who runs the veterans home in Warrensburg is relieved the funding went through.

"They're just living history," he said.  "They serve on the beaches of Normandy.  They have fascinating stories.  They have made so many sacrifices for our nation and our freedoms, it's the least we can do to help them in their elderly years."

If Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signs the bill into law, the $1 casino fees are expected to raise the $30 million per year the state needs to keep up the current homes and build new ones.

The governor is expected to sign the bill into law once his office has a chance to review all of the terms.

“I commend the General Assembly for passing this legislation to establish a long-term, dedicated funding source for Missouri Veterans Homes," Nixon released in a statement.  "Our veterans homes provide outstanding and modern care and medical services for Missourians who have fought to defend America and promote freedom and liberty throughout the world.  While we can never fully repay the sacrifices these heroes made for our country, this legislation upholds our commitment to make sure Missouri veterans receive the quality care they need and deserve.”

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