U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced a bipartisan bill today to help Butte secure the resources needed to construct the long-awaited Southwest Montana Veterans Home.
Tester’s bipartisan bill will reform the VA’s veterans home priority list to give rural states like Montana a fair shot at securing funding to build a veterans home. Since the Southwest Montana Veterans Home proposal was put on the VA’s priority list in 2010, it has continuously been bypassed due to VA’s formula that prioritizes safety upgrades and construction of veterans homes in large, urban communities.
“Montana is home to the second most veterans per capita than any state in the country,” Tester said. “Despite this urgent need, Butte continues to be unfairly passed over for a veterans home because of an arcane and outdated formula. Republicans and Democrats support my bill because it meets the need of rural veterans, provides a real solution for Butte, and upholds this country’s commitment to all who have served.”
Tester’s bill specifically guarantees that projects within the VA’s State Home Construction Grant Program, like the Southwest Montana Veterans Home, will not fall further down VA's priority list unless there are urgent safety concerns at other facilities. The VA’s priority list currently re-ranks veteran home projects each year based on the state’s total population.
In July, Tester sponsored an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill that contained a similar provision to reform the Veterans Home Priority List. Tester’s amendment was opposed on a party line vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Tester’s bill is cosponsored by Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
In addition to the Southwest Montana Veterans Home proposal, Montana is home to two veterans homes in Columbia Falls and Glendive.