This editorial appeared in the Grand Island Independent.
Gov. Dave Heineman’s announcement that Kearney was chosen as the “new location of the Central Nebraska Veterans Home” came as a shock to the GI Home for Our Heroes Committee, the veteran residents and staff of the home and the entire community.
Grand Island — deeply proud of its long history of caring for veterans and enhancing the quality of life of our military heroes — was cast aside.
As a community, Grand Island has aggressively pursued projects and development deemed to be beneficial to the town and the region. Grand Island is indeed fortunate to be the new home of the National Guard aviation facility and the Nebraska State Fair.
Certainly, Grand Island doesn’t expect to win every prize that it pursues. But when it comes to saving an institution that is so deeply ingrained in the community’s history, culture and landscape, it is reasonable to expect a level playing field and fair dealing in the appraisal process.
In order to level the playing field, state officials had to first cast aside the 126-year legacy of Grand Island Veterans Home; consideration for the 640 acres of land donated by the community; the permanency of the Veterans Memorial Cemetery; and, most importantly, concern for relocating the veterans. They consider the facility their home and Grand Island their community. Many of these veterans are in fragile condition and will not fare well if they are uprooted.
The Home for Our Heroes Committee has pledged to fight for our veterans with the same resolve that our veterans fought for us. It would be a great disservice to those veterans and future residents of the facility if the decision to relocate were predicated on awarding a “concession prize” to another community instead of doing what is in the best interests of the veterans.
The final judgment, regarding where, when and if the new facility will be built, rests with the federal government. The siting committee’s decision is merely one step in the process.
The details of the scoring rendered by the committee, the process and the options for Grand Island will be fully explored and shared with the community in the coming weeks.
Sen. Mike Gloor spoke for the community when he informed the governor that Grand Island would fight to keep the home where it is.