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Cedar City Vets launch campaign for VA nursing home

CEDAR CITY — Retired military veterans are holding a Town Hall meeting Friday to launch a public campaign for a Veterans' Assistance nursing home.

Marine Corps veteran Chuck Hoepfner recently told the City Council that the $17 million project would be a 110-bed nursing home on a six- to eight-acre lot; however, the project needs more community and financial support for it to become reality.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will provide 35 percent of the costs for a nursing home in southern Utah, either for Cedar City or St. George, but not both locations. The rest of the funds will be covered by the state.

The vets called on the council March 3 for support to persuade Salt Lake City veteran affairs administrators to select Cedar City as the place to build a southern Utah VA nursing home to service veterans and their spouses.

"We are up against a great deal of opposition — political opposition," he said.

Hoepfner said Cedar City is a better option to have a VA nursing home because it's centrally located in southwestern Utah to serve military veterans in the area.

"It would make a great deal of comfort for the veterans because some of us are advancing along and are going to need this someday," Hoepfner said.

Hoepfner also said another plus is the proximity to SUU, where students train to become nurses and dietitians.

"We want to let them know that Cedar City is not just a little farm community along the highway," Hoepfner said. "We have the responsibility, the infrastructure and we have the 'get-up-and-go' to do it."

Hoepfner said Sen. Dennis Stowell, R-Parowan, and Rep. Michael Noel, R-Kanab, offered advice to the vets and informed them to sponsor a town hall meeting open to the public.

The town hall meeting will take place Friday at Cedar City's Crystal's Inn, located at 1575 W. 200 N. at noon, to have the public participate in the decision making process of where the nursing home will be.

Hoepfner said he would like support from the community at the town hall meeting.

"Cedar City has been steamrolled many times and it's time we stop that nonsense," he said.

Cedar City resident and 31-year Marine Corps veteran Chet Simpson said he would like to have a VA nursing home in Cedar City.

Simpson said his father-in-law who is approaching dementia, will be sent to a nursing home in Missouri, which is thousands of miles away from his loved ones in Utah, if he doesn't find a closer VA nursing home.

Cedar City Mayor Joe Burgess, along with the council decided to put this item on the next council's action meeting, scheduled March 17.