New Stimulus-Funded Veteran Home Under Way in Tucson
May 13, 2010
Construction began last month on the new Veteran Home in Tucson, one of the Arizona projects funded in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Arizona State Legislature funded 35% of the project, with the Federal Veterans Administration through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act providing the remaining 65%. The formal groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 19th with over 300 guests in attendance, including keynote speaker Governor Brewer.
The 137,500 square feet of new construction will take 14 months to build, and when complete will significantly increase the available nursing beds for Arizona’s 600,000 veterans. Unlike many other states, Arizona currently only has one Veteran Home, located on South Herrera Way in Central Phoenix. This 200-bed skilled care nursing facility has been in operation since 1995, but does not nearly meet the demand for veteran skilled nursing in the State. Since retired U. S. Army Colonel Joey Strickland was appointed Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Service in 2008, he has focused much of his energy on providing additional facilities for Arizona’s 600,000 veterans. Colonel Strickland served previously as Director, then Deputy Secretary for the Louisiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs, a state with five veteran homes, of which three were built under Colonel Strickland’s Administration, for almost half the number of veterans that Arizona has. The good news is that the Department of Veterans’ Service plans to use the design of this Tucson project as a prototype to build three additional homes sometime in the future, proposed for the Kingman area, the Flagstaff area and Yuma.
The campus of four skilled nursing buildings and one community building is located on 8.54 acres of urban land donated to the State by the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. One building will be an Alzheimer’s unit while the other three will be general skilled nursing units providing rehabilitative work, therapeutic recreation, exercise classes, and physical, occupational, and speech therapy services. The community building includes an Internet café, barber shop/beauty salon, library, chapel, gift shop, and the main kitchen.
Following in the last decade’s trend toward a more residential environment for skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, the campus was designed in the beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival tradition, characterized by stucco wall finishes, lowpitched clay tile roofs, and decorative iron trim and fixtures. The design also complements the existing Southern Arizona VA Health Care Facility located on the adjacent site.