Edward Hanrahan has lived at the Rhode Island Veterans Home for 8 years. He commends the staff for the service and care he receives, both of which he says are outstanding.
What is not is the facility he lives in.
"We're damn glad to be here on the whole; we get excellent care," the World War II veteran and bronze star winner said. "But we do need a new home. It's an old building ... problems with the sewers, problems with the pipes, and so many leaks in the roof. Buildings this old ... very few still standing."
The Veterans Home on Metacom Avenue in Bristol was built in 1954 and was last renovated in 1969, according to state Rep. Ray Gallison, who hosted an event at the home Tuesday to rally support for Question 4 on the Nov. 6 ballot, asking residents to borrow $94 million to build a new veterans home.
"It's starting to get old and worn out, and there have been a lot of Band-aids," Gallison said after the rally. "We need a modern facility. This is for our vets."
The new Veterans Home, which would be built on land behind the existing facility, would house 240 permanent residents, including some spouses who don't currently live at the facility, along with dining and recreation areas. The existing facility would be renovate and used rehabilitation services, allowing residents to get treatment on campus instead of traveling to the veterans hospital in Providence.
Not all are in favor of borrowing such a sum while the state economy is still struggling to recover from recession. The Providence Journal, for instance, has come out against the bond referendum, citing the project's cost and its impact on a relatively small number of people.
While the number seems high, Gallison pointed out that there are no other large referenda on the ballot this year — even for road projects which have appeared on many recent ballots before the state moved to a pay-as-you-go system — and that the state will receive federal matching funds if the referendum passes, helping defray the costs. Plus, the project benefits those deserving of help later in life.
"We have a moral obligation to get this passed," Gallison said. "People in Rhode Island have always supported veterans."
Gov. Chafee acknowledged the recovering economy, but noted that for the first time in 72 months, all five indicators for unemployment are positive. "We can afford to go out and support Number 4," he said.
So what do you think? Should the state go to bond for $94 million for a new Veterans Home or is this the wrong time to borrow such a sum? Do you plan to vote for Question 4? Tell us in the comments section below.