Billions For 'Friends:' Veterans Can Go Scratch

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Long time veteran's advocate Larry Scott of VA Watchdog Dot Org brought the following Travis Fain of Macon Dot Com story to our attention (

). It might not have been much, but they called it their home. A home the 81 shared as brothers in residence. Now, instead of a home with friendly faces, they've been relegated to living-quarters... and mostly, now, alone. Why am I not surprised. Full story here (


Budget Cuts Force 81 Out Of Georgia War Veterans Home

"It's just the powers that be. We're all veterans, and they just want to sweep us under the rug. It tears at you every way you can think of."

Because of budget cuts, Roach and 80 other residents of the Pete Wheeler Building at the Georgia War Veterans Home will be out as of midnight tonight. The building itself will stay open, but two floors of apartments will be closed to save the state about $2.7 million a year.

Some of the older and disabled veterans will join him at a new nursing home. But the domiciliary, as it was known in the Wheeler Building, offered free living quarters to veterans healthy enough to care for themselves.

Roach said he was the second veteran to move into the Wheeler Building when it opened, and he lived there nearly 12 years. He ll still have somewhere to hang his lights, keeping a tradition that made him something of a father figure to generations of retired soldiers.

But it won t be home, and there is some bitterness toward the state over the closing and the way it was handled.

What Next For The Site

It has said repeatedly that the state hasn t decided what to do with the now-vacant parts of the Wheeler Building, which also house administrative offices that will remain open. The two floors that used to provide shelter will be locked up until a decision is made. But it s been tough to convince former residents of that. Some of them suspect that recently added handrails in the building and a newly upgraded air-conditioning system are evidence that officials already have a plan in place, one that will somehow profit the state or its corporate partners.

The Other Side Of The Coin

With economic forecasters estimating a $1.6 billion state budget shortfall, Gov. Sonny Perdue called on most departments to cut at least 6 percent of their spending. The cuts may eventually reach 10 percent, with the final figure depending on how the economy performs. Officials with the state Department of Veterans Services decided that they could cut 10 percent in one fell swoop. The 81 veterans lived there free of charge. With some 765,000 veterans in Georgia, that meant they were taking up more than 10 percent of the state s $25.7 million veterans services budget. The commissioner s office recommended closing the domiciliary, and the Veterans Service Board agreed.


Roach, who turned 80 Friday, said it s really hurt the way they done us. They could have given us a little more notice, he said. Some of the guys, they didn t draw any money, didn t have any family, had trouble finding a place to live.

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt