TYLER (KYTX) - It's been almost two years since the Texas Veterans Land Board broke ground on the Texas State Veterans home in Tyler. Tuesday, the first veteran residents moved in to the Watkins-Logan-Garrison Home, a place for veterans with medical needs. CBS 19's Amanda Roberson was there when the first person moved in and has more on the homecoming.
There are 10 veterans homes on the site. Inside each home 10 veterans will live together, each having a private bedroom. The first two residents moved in Tuesday morning, and another Wednesday. 94-year-old veteran Willard Kirkpatrick was the first to move in. He's been waiting eight months to move in and said it's good to be home.
Cutting the ribbon were first resident privileges for World War Two Army Veteran Willard Kirkpatrick of Hawkins. Four generations of Kirkpatricks, all living in East Texas, were there as he moved in.
"I'm just really close to home and I can call them," said Kirkpatrick. "If I need something or if I want to talk to them, they'll come as quick as they can."
For Kirkpatrick's son, Willard Wayne Kirkpatrick, Jr., it's the 24-7 service that helped them decide where Willard would call home. "He has such a hard time getting around. He needs the medical attention. He needs a nurse to attend to him and he needs the aids to help him."
Another feature in the new homes is high tech, high touch technology. The patient lift system easily helps dependent residents get from one area of their room, to the next.
"We can meet any need. We'll offer physical, occupational, speech therapy in house," Texas Veterans Land Board Representative Donna Huffman explained. "We'll have the memory care homes."
Two homes specifically for memory care for those with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Huffman said there are 104 applications on hand. "For veterans, however we can also accept spouses and widows of qualified veterans."
As veteran Kirkpatrick gets settled in, he said he's excited to have more neighbors and a chance to relive their fight for freedom. "Maybe if we get some of them old salty GI's in, they could lighten it up a little."
Two things every resident is asked to bring: a picture of them self from when they were in the service, and recipes! The motto here is 'Nothing about you, without you' and so that means residents have a say in everything from meal plans and events to anything else that happens inside the home.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays a daily rate for each veteran who lives in the home. Administrators work with other assistance agencies to help pay for the other costs.
To find out how to apply for a spot at the home, visit http://www.glo.texas.gov/vlb/veterans-benefits/veterans-homes/tyler-vet-home.html.
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