Groundbreaking signals start to new Minnesota veterans home in Preston
Gov. Walz, others speak of bipartisan efforts to make the veterans homes in Preston, Montevideo and Bemidji a reality.
PRESTON, Minn. — Between smiles and tears, state Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, gave a lot of thanks for the new veterans home that will be built in the city where he once served as mayor.
Mostly, he wanted to thank the veterans.
"I have to say this," Davids said at the Monday, Aug. 9, event. "You have served us, veterans. Now it's our time to serve you."
Davids was one of six dignitaries who gave thanks and gave credit across the political divide as about 200 people gathered atop a hill on the north side of Preston for a ceremonial groundbreaking to kick off construction of the $35 million project. The home is expected to be completed in 18 months, or in spring 2023.
The Preston Veterans Home is one of three being built in the state — the other two are in Bemidji and Montevideo — to increase the number in Minnesota to eight veterans homes. The state's existing veterans homes are in Fergus Falls, Hastings, Luverne, Minneapolis and Silver Bay. The homes develop and deliver a safe, dignified and compassionate health care system in a nurturing and engaging home environment, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The home in Preston will have room for 54 veterans, and would make Preston the only city in Minnesota with both a veterans cemetery and a veterans home, said Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Herke.
Herke said it's fitting that the home will employ about 120 people, helping support the community with jobs and families who live, work, shop and send their kids to school in Preston. After all, he said, the community supported the Preston Veterans Home, raising more than $1 million in donations toward the construction of the home.
Gov. Tim Walz, himself a veteran, who worked on the project both as a member of Congress and as governor, said he is happy for the city that will likely be his final resting place; he said he plans to be buried in Preston's Veterans Cemetery.
"We will care for eternity for those who have left this world," Walz said, "but we're also going to do the same thing to those who are still here."