Veterans deserve
long-term care home


A bill to fund a long-term care facility for military veterans awaits the governor's approval.

DISPLAYS of appreciation for the men and women who served in the war with Iraq are also reminders of our commitment to veterans of previous conflicts who may need long-term health care as they grow older.

State legislators have acknowledged this by approving a measure to provide $16 million toward building a long-term care facility in Hilo for U.S. veterans. We urge Governor Lingle, who has supported the project previously, to sign the bill.

The $16 million, which will be raised through general obligation bonds, represents the state's share for the $45 million facility. The balance would be borne by the federal government, and Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye has promised he will obtain the necessary appropriation through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The 200-bed facility would be the first of its kind in Hawaii, one of only three states without a long-term care home for veterans. Its construction on the grounds of the Hilo Medical Center will deliver opportunities for expanding clinical and professional instruction at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and create advantageous ties with the medical center. In addition, it will generate sorely needed jobs in East Hawaii for the construction industry as well as permanent employment in staff for the facility. The veterans home also will open beds at the medical center that are now taken by patients with long-term care needs.

For years, elderly veterans have circulated petitions at supermarkets and community centers and passed out information seeking support for the home. As a result, the measure has a wide support base that includes Mayor Harry Kim and Big Island County Council members, the state Department of Defense, several hospitals and other health-care organizations, economic development groups and private businesses. Kim told legislators that the care home is not just for Hawaii island, but "for the veterans of this state."

Veterans groups are concerned that the state's financial crisis will push the governor to veto the bond authorization. However, Lingle surely will recognize that the state's $16 million share for the care facility is small compared to America's debt to its military veterans.



Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Frank Teskey, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor, 529-4791;
Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor, 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor, 529-4762;

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4748;

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