SPARKS — Gov. Brian Sandoval will be known as the state’s biggest supporter of veterans.
A crowning moment for the second-term governor came on Monday when he presided over ground-breaking ceremonies for a 96-bed, $47 million Northern Nevada State Veterans Home that will be constructed by the end of 2018. The facility will be located southeast of Kietzke Lane and Galletti Way on state property.
“We’ve had a dire need for a veterans’ home for years,” said Kat Miller, director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, who spoke before the governor. “Many veterans are unable to find affordable nursing and most seek care hundreds of miles from home.”
The only state facility is located in Boulder City but many veterans must go out of state for care.
Miller thanked veterans and guests for their support and for the governor’s support in making the ceremony a reality. She also recognized servicemen and women from their different eras of service including a half-dozen World War II veterans to those who never deployed to war by keeping the nation safe during the 44-year Cold War. She said the men and women in uniform never knew if the world would be annihilated or not during a time when the United States and the Soviet Union, along with their respective allies, were engaged in geopolitical tension.
Sandoval, who never missed a mobilization or demobilization of Nevada National Guard troops from deployment, said he had been looking forward to Monday for a very long time.
“We have been working for many, many years for this vision,” Sandoval said, calling it a Team Nevada win. “It takes everybody to make today a reality.”
Sandoval thanked the Legislature for approving more than $14 million in state funds to build the facility. The Nevada State Veterans Home will consist of more than 102,000 square feet and offer numerous services that can provide skilled nursing and memory care.
“This is a place where our veterans will gather to really celebrate their service, and they will get the best care that possibly can be found anywhere in the United States of America,” he said to thunderous applause.
Sandoval also talked of his tenure as governor and how he wants the state to be veteran friendly and to recognize those who donned the uniform to serve their country.
“I am proud to serve as commander in chief of our National Guard,” Sandoval said. “As governor, you get a lot of opportunities and privileges to do things.”
The governor, who traveled to Southwest Asia three times to visit Nevada National Guard units, said he appreciates the sacrifices veterans and their families make. As he spoke of his first visit in August 2011, he showed a United States flag given to him by the 422nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, which had deployed for nine months to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Sandoval also commended individuals and groups who work behind the scenes to recognize veterans. He noted 80,000 veterans live in Northern Nevada, and more than 300,000 in the state.
Sen. Dean Heller said he helped secure federal funding for the project as a senior member of the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He said having a facility in Boulder City was too far away, and the federal government does not understand the needs of western states.
“Every veteran here today deserves a home in their own community surrounded by their loved ones, and this groundbreaking moves us closer to that goal,” he said. “As a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will continue my fight to secure critical VA funding for this veterans home.”
In addition to Sandoval and Heller attending the hour-long event, others joining them included Attorney General Adam Laxalt, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell, Sparks Mayor Gino Martini, Fernley Mayor Roy Edgington, members of the state legislature and other community leaders.
The Nevada Veteran Coalition Honor Guard from Fernley presented the colors.