When you paused this Veterans Day to remember those who have served our country, many have returned home wounded, broken and in need of long term care.
To get that kind of care, many vets had to drive 96 miles to the nearest veterans care facility.
It's exactly why a Mid-South organization wants to build a facility for vets but their mission may be an uphill battle.
As Holly Swoggers reflects on memories long ago, every thought from honorable obligation, to freedom for our country, to her late husband looking respectful in his Army blues comes to mind.
"He was very photogenic. He looked great in his uniform, he did," she said.
Swoggers is working with the West Tennessee Veterans Home Association trying to build a Memphis-area long term health care facility for the more than 72,000 Mid-South vets between Shelby, Tipton and Fayette counties.
There is one facility at present, for those who can travel, which is actually not in even in our region. It's 95 miles away.
Her organization is looking at other long term homes across the state as a model, for what would be built in this area. She says if you give to your country, it's costly for your country to give back. The facility is pricey, at $35 million, including needing a third of that money in cash just to get started and 25 acres of donated land.
But that's just the beginning.
Pages of restrictions that are necessary -- it can't have ballistics, it can't be an Indian burial ground, it can't be in a flood plain, it can't be next an airport or runway or railroad.
The government red tape also includes it needs to be in a residential area, near public transportation that can't be too far away from a hospital. So there's a lot, and that's just the top layer.
Vets can always utilized the Veterans Administration Hospital in Downtown Memphis. Vets also receive $35,000 annually for long term care to be used at four state contracted nursing homes.
Most nursing homes will cost upwards of about $50,000 a year, which means a vet is always $15,000 short every year.
Swoggers says besides providing a local home, the facility also means jobs for the community - an estimated $6.5 million in wages, salaries, and between $4-5 million in goods and services. The predicted payback to the community will happen within two years.
It's also exactly why the organization is hoping people understand the need to reach out to those who have served and continue to serve our country.
That is important to the community," Swoggers said. "Gee, it's financially beneficial but what we can give back to our veterans is just overwhelming."
It's anything but overwhelming for this group, trying to raise money and stand on the front lines of care; just like those who've stood strong for all of us.
Shelby County has already pledged $2 million toward this project. If you are interested in donating, you can send a check to the West Tennessee Veteran Home,, Inc., P.O. Box 655, Cordova, Tenn., 38088-0655. Or you can call Swoggers at 901-757-9883.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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