Local lawmakers call again for veterans home in north country

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 4:15 PM EDT
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(WWNY) - Two state lawmakers are calling on the governor’s office to add funding in next year’s state budget for a veterans home in the north country.

When retired veterans get older and need more medical care, they can go to veterans homes run by the state health department. The homes provide skilled nursing care and rehabilitative services.

There are 4 in New York state. The closest one to the north country is in Oxford, New York, about 4 hours from St. Lawrence County.

St. Lawrence County Veterans Service Department Director Michael Boprey says there is a need for senior living in the north country.

“The need is obvious. Our veteran population is aging. As they age, there’s medical needs. Aside from that, it’s the entire population in this area,” he said.

Patrick Rourke is the current chaplain at the American Legion post in Norwood.

“I know of cases where the spouse went every day. Going to Oxford from here every day. I mean, it’s a gross impossibility,” he said.

According to state Senator Mark Walczyk, there are around 20,000 veterans living within Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

Walczyk and state Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush wrote a letter in 2021 to the governor, urging the state to fund a new veterans home in the north country.

Walczyk says it took almost 2 years before he got a response.

The state representatives will try again, hoping the 2024-2025 budget will build a veterans home that is closer to home for people in the north country.