Veterans advocates say the hard part has just begun as Bowling Green seeks to open the state’s fifth veterans nursing home.
Officials from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs offered a sobering update Tuesday to area lawmakers and veterans at the American Legion Post in Bowling Green.
During this year’s General Assembly session, lawmakers authorized $10 million in state funding for a 90-bed skilled nursing facility, but the money hasn’t actually been appropriated.
Until that happens in the 2018 General Assembly, the Bowling Green nursing home can’t be placed on the federal government’s priority-one list.
"The legislative support to have the state matching funds is there. It just has to be approved and appropriated so we can spend the money for design work," said Mark Bowman, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Veterans Centers. "That's the big barrier we're facing to try to get to that priority-one list."
State Representative Jim DeCesare of Warren County says some creativity might be needed to accelerate the process.
"I think if we push heard enough and work hard enough, and we get some outside help, start thinking outside the box, we can make this happen," DeCesare told WKU Public Radio.
DeCesare says outside funds, possibly through local governments or public-private partnerships, would allow design work to begin sooner. Those entities could then be reimbursed once the state funding is approved in the next state budget.
Once the Bowling Green nursing home project lands on the federal VA’s priority-one list, construction would still likely be at least six years away. The facility would be located on donated land at the Kentucky Trimodal Transpark in Warren County.