New veterans' home to be built in Macomb County
Chesterfield Township — State, federal, and local officials gathered Monday to break ground on the future site of a new veterans' home.
The ceremony celebrated what is envisioned as home-like environment for 128 veterans on tree-clustered, overgrown acreage that was once the Sebille Manor and provided housing for those on active duty at nearby Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
Construction on the Macomb County facility is expected to begin in the spring of 2019 and to be completed by fall of 2021. It will be the first veterans' facility built in southeast Michigan and the first built in the state in 132 years.
The only other veterans' homes are the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, which was opened in 1887 as the Michigan Soldiers’ Home, and the D.J. Jacobetti Home, which opened in a renovated medical building in Marquette in 1981.
The new facility planned in Macomb County and a new one to be built in Grand Rapids, will be undertaken with $108 million in government funding — $42 million from the state and the rest from the federal government.
“This is an example of good government coming together,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “It’s not about politics. It's about agreeing on doing what is right. The veterans have served us and it's past due time we served them..
“What an idea … let’s put a facility near where our veterans are,” said Snyder.
Snyder and others at Monday's ceremony said the Grand Rapids veterans home has done a good job at helping vets, but those needed that help — and their families and friends — had to go to the western side of the state, even though an estimated one-third of Michigan's 600,000 veterans live in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
The concept, a modern home-like setting with state-of-the-art care, resulted from recommendations of a work group led by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency; the hope is it will be the first of six additional facilities built in Michigan, said James Robert Redford, director of the state agency.
“We have a detailed blueprint and shared deep commitment to serve our state’s veterans,” Redford said. “…We honor their service. We honor their sacrifice. It is our honor to serve them now.”
Several veterans organizations attended the ceremony. Pat Daniels, a Vietnam veteran and chairman of the Veterans Association of Macomb, agreed the planned facility is needed and overdue.
“One hundred and thirty-two years overdue,” said Daniels. “It's unconscionable there has not been one in Macomb, or Oakland or Wayne counties. Of course, we are happy at it being built and look forward to more.
Robert Troost, another Vietnam veteran, traveled from his home — the Grand Rapids facility — to attend the event.
“I’m originally from Holland (Michigan) and lived in the facility for five years,” Troost said. “The plans are to build a new one in Grand Rapids and this concept is really good. It's not institutional; it's like a home. Will help make people feel they are more a part of society.”
Each home will serve 128 veterans who will reside in four smaller houses, each with their own bedroom and bathroom and common gathering and kitchen spaces. The smaller houses will connect with a community center with clinics and therapeutic services. Other envisioned amenities include; larger spaces for community meetings, courtyards and green spaces, even a barber shop or hair salon.