New GR veterans home nears completion

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans will soon be able to do an even better job of serving those who served us. 

Construction of the new state of the art facility is nearly complete, the facility looks and feels much more like home. Michigan Veteran Homes hope their new facility will truly bring honor to those who paid so much to be there. 

“It’s gonna be night and day. Our existing facility, the most recent one, was built in the late 80s. There was a different standard of care back then,” spokesman for Michigan Veteran Homes Fred Schaible said. “We are probably at about the two-thirds mark, it would be fair to say. Grand Rapids should be completed by early spring of 2021 and then we’ll start the process of transferring residents over from the existing home over to the new home.”

The old home looks like a hospital, it’s multistoried, brick corridors make it feel like one too. 

“At our peak we had over 600 veterans residing here between the multiple buildings that we had on the campus, now it holds just under 200,” Schaible said.

Veterans who live inside often share rooms and bathrooms. Some of the buildings at the complex served veterans from the Civil War, suffice to say times have changed. 

“Now skilled nursing and long term care here has really come into the 21st century,” Schaible said. “We have individual private rooms in the new home with individual bathrooms. So, it’s going to be a very home-like, person centered environment.”

If the construction of the new facility looks and feels more like home, that’s by design. Schaible says they spared no expense with the $60 million upgrade.

“Every motivation from a staff perspective that went into the design and planning for this, the new homes, was focused on the members. They’re who we serve. That’s why we’re here,” Schaible said. “So, we’re very excited, and we know the staff and the members are too. They watched the construction occurring in real time. They see it, they want to know more about it.”

Veterans will feel more at home at the new building, it’s smaller, can hold roughly 128 people and is broken up into four, ‘neighborhoods’ of 32 rooms, each neighborhood is split into households of 16. This promotes community according to Schaible who says the comfortable constriction fosters communal living. 

“That camaraderie is something that’s ingrained in them. It’s something that, it’s why they served. It was an important part of it. So having the home-like neighborhoods, the smaller groups, is really going to help build on that,” Schaible said. “Really building on that home-like environment. Whereas in the current home again, it’s much more of a unit approach,  multi-storied. You’ll see the new home is all one story.”

The new building now stands soon to serve as a physical thank you, for the service of our state’s heroes. 

“Veterans don’t always seek out recognition. That’s just not how they’re wired. They didn’t do it for the recognition, they did it for the service and to help defend our freedoms,” Schaible said. “Thank them  when you see them, thank them for their service.”

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