Veterans push for Post Falls Veterans home

POST FALLS, Idaho -- There is a major push underway to build a home for disabled and aging veterans in Post Falls.

With close to 19,000 veterans in North Idaho and the closest veterans home being in Lewiston, local vets and their families explained how the need for a new home is so great.

"The problem with Lewiston, is that's two and a half hours away," said Sandy Doutre, Kootenai County Veterans Council Secretary. "So that means that if my veteran ends up going to Lewiston, I either have to pick up and move, or I have to drive two and a half hours to see him."

Doutre's husband Joe served in the Navy, and now suffers from a traumatic brain injury.

"He's lost his hearing, he has seizures. He's got diabetes," said Doutre.

For aging vets like Joe, there is only so many places to be treated. Idaho is home to just three veterans homes, the closest being in Lewiston. The home not only has a high occupancy rate, but is also a long drive for families of the 19,000 veterans in North Idaho. Local leaders and lawmakers have been doing everything they can to make an area in Western Post Falls the future site of a vets home.

A state study found that North Idaho is the area of highest need when it comes to building a new vets home. Several local leaders, including former Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin, have been pushing to get a vets home there.

The owners of the Riverbend Commerce Park earlier in 2015, agreed to donate six and a half acres in North Idaho for the home. Now, it is just a matter of funding.

The Veterans Association will cover 65% of the construction cost, but the rest is up to the state.

In February, a senator from Coeur d'Alene submitted a bill to state lawmakers that would earmark money to help pay for it. A cost Doutre said is well worth it when it comes to honoring local vets.

"It would be absolutely fantastic. It would mean that we would not have to move out of the area," said Doutre. "I would still have my support system."

Once there is enough funding, the state will then formally apply to the Veterans Association for the home.


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