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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Momentum Builds for New State Veterans Home in Walla Walla

Thanks to the perserverence of Walla Walla's veteran and community leaders, we are well on our way to breaking ground on the new State Veterans Home in Walla Walla!  In an effort to keep everyone up to date on the project, the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs brought members of the design team to Walla Walla on June 21 for a series of meetings.  

But rather than just have meetings, we brought along some special effects!  It's one thing to hear how large the rooms will be or listen to a briefing on their exciting design elements, but getting to walk through a full size mock-up of that room really helps put things in perspective.  So when veterans and community members came to our community meeting, they got a little taste of what a room in the new Walla Walla State Veterans Home might feel like!

Veterans and community members walk through a full size mock-up of a resident room.

Using the Federal VA's new Community Living Center guidelines, this home is being designed much like any other home would be. Rather than a bulky building with long noisey hallways, the Walla Walla Veterans Home is being designed as eight separate small houses.  Each house has five spacious bedrooms on either side of a Great room, kitchen and dining room.  And just like in my house (and probably yours) the house is designed for people to spend much of their time in the kitchen and living room.

The Walla Walla State Veterans Home will be located on the grounds of the Jonathan M. Wainwright VA Medical Center in an area where the water tower currently sits.  We are still working through the details of  moving the water system, but both VA Medical Center Director Brian Westfield and WDVA Director John Lee are confident that we will find a solution. 

In the center of the 8 small houses will be a community center where veterans can gather for ceremonies, get a haircut at the barber shop or attend physical and occupational therapy sessions.  Similar to the three other State Veterans Homes, the Walla Walla Home will be both Medicaid and Medicare Certified giving veterans and their spouses as many options as possible.

In addition to the community meeting, officials from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs and NBBJ visited with members of the Walla Walla Joint Community Development Agency including Director Tom Glover and other key members of his staff. 

The goal of the meeting with the WWJCDA was to ensure that each of the various jurisdictions who will have a regulatory role in the project are in the loop and on board with the unique design concepts.

Staff of the Walla Walla VA Medical Center were also given the opportunity to hear more about the project that will eventually become their neighbor on the campus!
WDVA Deputy Director Alfie Alvarado-Ramos talks with VAMC Staff.
We are excited to continue bringing updates and information to the community as this project moves forward.  For more, visit our Walla Walla Veterans Home website or e-mail heidia@dva.wa.gov . 

Randy Graham, Alfie Alvarado-Ramos and
Jo Whitney look over a 3D Model.
Photo by Sean Airhart/NBBJ

Randy Benedict of NBBJ talks with
community members.
Photo by Sean Airhart/NBBJ

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