Ranking Member Tester Secures Funding for Butte Veterans Home
Senator’s Long Push for New Facility Included in Funding Measure
(U.S. Senate) - Ranking Member Jon Tester used his powerful leadership positions on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure funding to build the long-awaited Southwest Montana Veterans Home in Butte.
Tester successfully included additional funding for state veterans homes in the bill that will fund the government until the end of Fiscal Year 2018.
"This is a huge victory for Butte and a long overdue win for veterans across southwest Montana," Tester said. "This happened because Montanans spent years working together on a real solution for veterans in Butte and the surrounding communities. I will be holding the VA accountable to make sure that construction gets underway quickly."
The funding for the Southwest Montana Veterans Home will provide care for 60 elderly veterans in state-of-the-art cottage residencies, bringing new jobs and millions of dollars in yearly economic impact to Butte.
In July, Tester successfully included an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill that would give rural states like Montana a fair shot at securing funding to build a veterans home. At that time, he also voted in support of an amendment that would have provided all of the funding required to construct the Southwest Montana Veterans Home, and others that had been delayed on the list. Unfortunately, that amendment failed on a party-line vote. Tester was the only member of the delegation to support it.
Since the Southwest Montana Veterans Home proposal has been on the VA's priority list, Tester has been calling for funding because the Butte project has continuously been bypassed due to the VA's formula that prioritizes safety upgrades and construction of veterans homes in large, urban communities. He has brought several VA Secretaries to Montana to hear directly from veterans about the need for the veterans home.
To prevent delays in veterans home funding in the future, Tester secured a commitment from VA Secretary David Shulkin that the department will update regulations to prioritize rural facilities on their state home ranking list.
Additionally, Tester introduced bipartisan legislation, the State Veterans Home Program Improvement Act, to reform the VA's state veterans home priority list and give rural states like Montana a fair shot at securing funding to build a veterans home.
Montana is home to two veterans homes in Columbia Falls and Glendive.