Plans to improve outreach to Kansas veterans and to upgrade and expand veterans' homes in Fort Dodge and Winfield were rolled out last week in a presentation by Gov. Sam Brownback, House Speaker Ray Merrick, Chair of the Kansas Commission on Veterans' Affairs Mike Neer and KCVA executive director Gregg Burden.
Members of various veterans organizations joined the state officials at the announcement.
"In Kansas, we honor our veterans," Brownback said. "They have earned our respect and deserve services and facilities that match the quality of care provided to these heroes."
Brownback said his Fiscal Year 2015 budget submission to the legislature will propose three specific actions designed to meet the strategic plan developed by KCVA for doing what's best for Kansas veterans.
Improvements to veteran facilities
The governor will propose hiring four new service officers to improve outreach to Kansas veterans; providing 40 new beds by opening Triplet Hall at the Kansas Veterans Home in Winfield; and expediting renovations to the two main facilities at the Kansas Soldiers Home at Fort Dodge.
Funding for facility improvements at the Soldiers Home, a $1.4 million investment, will come from a Special Building Fund restricted to improvements at state-owned hospitals and veterans' facilities. The Soldiers Home submitted a five-year plan for renovations which are being accelerated to be completed in two years.
The four service officers to be hired under this proposal will be stationed in strategic locations across the state to help our veterans gain access to the federal benefits to which they are entitled, such as health care, education assistance, disability compensation and home loan guarantee programs.
"I am grateful to the KCVA and the veterans' organizations across our state for their efforts in ensuring we continue to recognize the debt we owe those who served to protect our freedom," Brownback said. "Our Kansas military are a part of our history and our service members a part of our community. I look forward to working with the Legislature on this important issue."