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Oregon U.S. senators, congresswoman urge VA to fund Roseburg veterans’ home

The Roseburg VA Medical Center campus spans 200 acres and has 32 buildings on it.
Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The Roseburg VA Medical Center campus spans 200 acres and has 32 buildings on it.

Three Oregon federal lawmakers are pushing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to move swiftly to fund a new 154-bed long-term home for veterans in Douglas County.

On Thursday, Democratic U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Val Hoyle, whose 4th Congressional District includes Douglas County, asked Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough to prioritize the project, which needs $65 million in federal funding.

The new facility, if built in Roseburg, would provide long-term care and memory care, as well as short-term and rehabilitative care, for veterans on the VA Medical Center’s 200-acre campus, which already has 32 buildings. The Oregon Legislature supports the $100 million project, in the works for more than a decade. In April, the Legislature passed a bill that commits $35 million in state funding to the home, provided the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs approves $65 million in matching funds.

“This home is needed now more than ever,” the delegation wrote in a letter to McDonough. “Roseburg is the county seat of Douglas County, Oregon – a largely rural community with a sizable veteran population.”

Spokespeople for the VA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Douglas County has more than 10,000 veterans, and there are about 250,000 in the state. The new facility would provide an option for 68,000 veterans in the VA Southern Oregon Healthcare System service area, which includes Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake counties in Oregon as well as Siskiyou and Del Norte counties in California.

The Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs also operates the Oregon Veterans’ Home in The Dalles, a 151-bed skilled nursing facility, and the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, a 154-bed assisted living facility. As veterans, including baby boomers who served in the Vietnam War era, continue to age, the needs will increase for long-term care for veterans.

The letter asks the federal agency to prioritize the project so it can potentially receive funding in fiscal year 2025, which starts Oct. 1.

The Oregon Capital Chronicle is a professional, nonprofit news organization. We are an affiliate of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. The Capital Chronicle retains full editorial independence, meaning decisions about news and coverage are made by Oregonians for Oregonians.

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. Ben Botkin has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon.