Allegations about the neglect of veterans at Veterans Administration hospitals are unsettling, says District 86 State Rep. Barbara Cooper, who hopes the scandal matter will shed light on recent efforts to build a Veterans Home in West Tennessee.
Cooper expressed her concern when notifying The New Tri State Defender of a meeting held Wednesday (May 20) by a committee of concerned citizens. She wants to make sure the public knows the effort is moving forward.
The West Tennessee Tennessee Veterans Home Project is a citizens group comprised of active and retired military personnel, and business and community leaders. It's headed by Holly Swogger, a local realtor. A memo from Swogger to Cooper outlines a dire situation faced by vets in West Tennessee.
"There are more than 74,000 veterans living in Fayette, Shelby and Tipton Counties, the largest concentration in the state of Tennessee, with no local veterans home to meet their unique needs. Help us build this home for those who served," Swogger wrote Cooper.
The group is seeking to raise $35 million through public, local and state funding sources. The federal government would then allocate $68 million to complete the project.
A design template, an online petition and further background is available on the group's website at www.veterans-home.com. Donations are accepted as well.
"(The public) really needs to come forward and support this effort," said Swogger. "We all benefit from the 1 percent of the population that comes forth to protect us all. Many of them give everything, their eyesight, arms, legs and their families sacrifice to uphold this country and we should take care of them because they take care of us."
In the memo, Swogger also thanks Cooper for attempting to find funding to expand the group's effort.
"I passed a resolution seeking $50,000 to help support them. Even though that initial effort was not successful, there is a great deal of positive movement on this issue now, and news should be forthcoming of next-steps efforts soon," Cooper said.
While she has a longstanding concern for the needs of Veterans, Cooper said, "It has been Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-26) that has been the real workhorse on this issue. This is a crucial initiative citizens need to urge their legislators to support."