MONTGOMERY — The Alabama State Board of Veterans Affairs on Friday selected a site in Enterprise as the location for a new state veterans home.
The location consists of a donation of 108 acres between U.S. Highway 84 and AL Highway 167. The new home should open by 2023.
“We are in hog heaven,” Enterprise Mayor Bill Cooper said. “The Wiregrass will benefit because of the workforce needed. People will be coming from all over.”
State Rep. Rhett Marques of District 91 was happy with the news.
“I had heard we had a good shot,” Marques said. “We had a very good package put together from Jonathan (Tullos, Wiregrass Economic Development executive director) and the city of Enterprise.”
He said Coffee County was a partner in the project. “Everyone did an excellent job of getting noticed,” Marques said. “They did a good job of showing off the city.”
Cooper credited the committee, the flat land for the site and its access to Highway 167, Medical Center Enterprise and the dialysis center as key factors for Enterprise being chosen.
The city of Enterprise has scheduled a news conference about the announcement Monday at City Hall beginning at 10 a.m.
Marques said the veterans home is a long-term deal. “It will be here long after we’re dead and gone for many decades,” he said.
In early 2018, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs hired Public Consulting Group Inc. to conduct a feasibility study for the long-term veteran healthcare needs in the state.
The PCG study projected that 1,440 veterans would require a skilled-care bed by 2045. Currently, there are 704 beds at Alabama’s four veterans homes. The maximum number of state veterans home beds in Alabama is set at 1,007.
In addition, the study showed that the projected demand for skilled care among Alabama veterans will continue to significantly exceed the total number of beds currently provided through the state veterans home program.
Based on the study’s findings, PCG identified the Wiregrass region as an underserved area for providing skilled care exclusively for veterans. The consulting firm recommended locating a 150- to 175-bed skilled-care facility in the region, which comprises Barbour, Butler, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike counties.
In October 2018, the SBVA unanimously voted to proceed with a plan to build a fifth state veterans home and subsequently gave the board’s Veterans Home Committee the authority to recommend to the board a site for the new home.
The Veterans Homes Committee reviewed 12 site proposals submitted by jurisdictions in the Wiregrass region based on five factors — favorability of the plot of land proposed; transportation accessibility; workforce availability; specialized health-care services within proximity of the site; and additional factors identified by the proposer.
The committee met Friday morning and voted to recommend Enterprise as the site for the new veterans home to the SBVA. The SBVA convened its quarterly meeting later that afternoon and unanimously voted to accept the Veterans Homes Committee’s recommendation.
Coffee County was identified as having the largest veteran population projections in the feasibility study, while other counties show a reduction in the veteran population. Enterprise has a workforce to support the home as well as medical services available to support the needs of the veterans.
“This was a difficult selection process, as many communities submitted excellent proposals for the new veterans home. We are excited about this project, as this location will give access to many underserved veterans,” said Chad Richmond, SBVA vice chairman. “The committee team worked diligently and fairly through this process, and I’m confident that our selection of Enterprise will provide the setting and care our veterans deserve.”