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Rep. Winnie Brinks: $49 million Grand Rapids Home for Veterans "a step in the right direction"

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The Grand Rapids Planning Commission has voted to approve moving forward with a new $49 million Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. The new home is set to be constructed at 3 mile road and Monroe Avenue and will have room for 128 residents. Plans for the building include a community center with a kitchen, clinic, physical therapy space, offices and a meditation chapel. 

Dan Waun is a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. He says the new facility will be a major upgrade than the current home originally built in 1885.

“As you know, the members who live at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans call that their home," Waun said. "It’s more than a medical facility. It’s not a hospital. But this is where they live this is their home. And with the new facility that we are currently planning to construct. This will resemble more a home than the current facility.”

Last summer, allegations of abuse led Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to issue a state wide audit of the facility. The audit resulted in criminal charges for eleven former caregivers.

State Representative Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids says, while the $49 million upgrade is a step in the right direction, a new facility is not enough.

“I think that it’s important for us to remember that you know we can make the outside look really pretty but unless we’re really focused on the culture there and the care that Veterans are receiving on the inside of those buildings, we will be missing the point,” Brinks said. 

“I think if you look at this past August, the state auditor issued a follow up report and showed great progress there as well," Waun said. "The agency as a whole, the Grand Rapids home itself, all the staff, we are continuing to look ahead and work toward the future, and building the best facilities and providing the best possible care for Michigan’s veterans." 

Plans call for the new facility to open in 2020. The Grand Rapids City Commission will vote on the facility February 6th. 

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