Tester, Bullock, Local Officials Break Ground on Southwest Montana Veterans Home
Facility that will house 60 veterans, spouses set to open in 2020
(Butte, Mont.) - U.S. Senator Jon Tester and Governor Steve Bullock today joined various local, state and federal officials at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Southwest Montana Veterans Home (SWMVH).
"It's an honor to break ground on a project that's been three decades in the making," Tester said. "Without the persistence and dedication of folks throughout this community, we would not be standing here today celebrating this long overdue victory. The VA continuously overlooked Butte, but we remained relentless and kept pushing until they understood the need for a Veterans Home here in southwest Montana. They thought they could wait us out, but folks in Washington eventually learned a hard lesson: When the going gets tough, Butte gets going."
"It's heartwarming to see the community come together in anticipation of this facility finally becoming a reality for those who have so bravely fought for our country," Bullock said. "Today - just days away from celebrating our country's independence - is about so much more than breaking ground, it's about recognizing all of the hard work veterans and Montanans put in to provide a welcoming home."
The approximately $20 million facility, expected to open in 2020, will be constructed on a 10-acre site on Blacktail Loop, just south of Mount Highland Drive. The facility will include five, 12-bedroom cottages along with a community center building and will have room for 60 veterans.
The new facility will offer many services for its residents, including an activities program, spiritual resources, support groups, and social services. Rehab services will also be provided, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy and dietitian services.
Veteran and former Montana Legislator Bob Pavlovich first proposed the idea for a Southwest Montana Veterans Home in 1993 and efforts to fund the project began about a decade ago.
Since then, Senator Tester has led the charge to secure federal funding for the project in Congress. He first brought up the issue with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in 2010. He then brought VA Secretary Robert McDonald to Montana in 2015 to hear directly from Butte officials about the critical need for a Veterans Home in southwest Montana. In 2017, Tester successfully included an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans' Affairs Appropriations Act that would give rural states like Montana a fair shot at securing funding to build new Veterans Homes. Tester was the only member of Montana's Congressional delegation to vote for this bill.
A breakthrough came in early 2018, when-as Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs and a senior member of the VA Appropriations Subcommittee-Tester worked to ensure that additional funding under the new budget caps was invested in the State Veterans Home Construction Grant Program. On March 22, 2018, Tester secured $9.7 million for construction of the Southwest Montana Veterans Home in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. He was, once again, the only member of Montana's Congressional delegation to vote for the bill.
During the recent legislative session, Governor Bullock supported, and the legislature passed HB5 that provided $5 million as part of the Long-Range Building Program. This funding ensured the project could be fully funded. Rep. Jim Keane, D-Butte, carried the bill. Both Keane and Senator Jon Sesso, D-Butte, worked this session and in previous sessions to ensure the SWMVH project moved forward.
The legislature had previously earmarked $5 million in funding a decade ago. The land where the facility will be built was donated by the estate of the late Don Harrington, a veteran himself who has since passed away. The City-County of Butte Silver Bow, fulfilling the local residents' commitment to the effort, has provided the infrastructure to the project, including roads, water and sewer. The general contractor for the project is Markovich Construction.
- Montana DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan said, "DPHHS is thankful this project is coming to fruition, and we look forward to the day when the doors officially open. We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to open a third Veterans home in Montana; one that will expand our state's ability to provide a much-needed service to those who have given so much of their lives to our country."
- Montana Legislator Senator Jon Sesso said, "It's a great accomplishment for veterans in Southwest Montana. Not surprisingly, and true to their nature, Veterans' perseverance and diligence over the past decade made this happen. Dedicated veterans served on the selection committee to pick this wonderful site, then they worked with the architects to design a modern, first-rate residential facility that will best meet their needs, and now local Veterans are committed to working with the State of Montana to select a qualified operator and ensure the facility is well run. It's been great to be part of their success."
- Montana Legislator Rep. Jim Keane said, "It's been a long process to get this project to this point, and I congratulate all those who worked so hard, including those at the local, state and federal level. We finally have all the financial pieces together, and now it's time to build the Southwest Montana Veterans Home. Soon, we'll have a facility that our Veterans deserve and will make Montana proud."
- Veteran and former Legislator Bob Pavlovich said, "I just want to thank all past and present legislators who worked so hard for this project over the past many years. This took a lot of effort from legislators from both sides of the aisle, and I'm just so thankful it's happening now, and I couldn't be happier."
- Dave Palmer, Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive said, "The people of southwest Montana, especially our Veterans, have been waiting for completion of this great project for several years. I thank everyone who helped make this become a reality."
Montana DPHHS is currently accepting applications for admission to the SWMVH. The application form can be found online here. Applications can be submitted to Shaunda Hildebrand at PO Box 4210, Helena, MT 59604.
Montana has two other Veteran Homes including the Montana Veterans' Home in Columbia Falls and the Eastern Montana Veterans' Home in Glendive.