Veterans Upset With Opening of Vets Home

By: Jessa Goddard
By: Jessa Goddard

Knoxville (WVLT) - On Monday Knox County officials presented local veterans with a passenger bus to provide transportation to and from the recently completed Ben Atchley State Veterans Home.

But as volunteer TV's Jessa Goddard reports, some local veterans say they're frustrated with progress at the facility.

The discussions to build a state veterans home in Knox County began back in 2002.

The County Commission appropriated the land, and six million dollars, for the facility.

Now complete, the 140 bed, 75,000 square foot nursing home is accepting veterans.

But after years of planning and building, some veterans are complaining the home is too slow to open its doors to residents.

"To the general public it seems like we've got a waiting list, but we've got empty beds. What's up with this? But it's all part of that process," says Veterans Affairs Commissioner John Keys.

County officials estimate 30 to 40 veterans have already moved in to the 140 bed home, and they expect it to be at capacity within the next few weeks.

"Well, I think when you start a new facility, it's impossible to fill it up in just the first couple of weeks, you want to transition. But I think, what you'll see over the next couple of days and weeks is that this facility will be full, this van will help with that process, as well," Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale says.

County Mayor Mike Ragsdale says this van should make that process easier for the 100 or so veterans yet to move in. "Everyone would like to see things go faster, but you also want to be sure that people have the right type of care when they're in the home, and I think we're doing it the right way."

Of the 140 beds, 20 have been designated for veterans with special needs.

With that in mind, the van Knox County presented Monday includes four spaces for wheel chairs, and is handicap accessible via a lift.

Knox County purchased the 2006 ford supreme passenger bus at a cost of nearly $45,000.

It's available for use by any Veteran's home residents.


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