Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget contains money for a variety of programs to help the state’s military veterans, including support services in Newington and a study of how state-owned buildings can be put to work to serve them. We owe our veterans that much, and more.
Homelessness is a major concern — this state has an estimated 500 homeless vets — and the Veterans Home in Rocky Hill will be one focus of the study. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman will lead the effort.
Rocky Hill is a big campus, with more than 40 buildings, and the main residential building has about 400 beds. There’s no waiting list, so the public might wonder what barriers there could be to housing more vets at that site. But there are barriers and there are rules, such as no alcohol allowed. “We cannot accept psychiatric patients,” said state Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz; “We have no psychiatric staff,” and therefore “can’t accept veterans that are suicidal, have not been clean and sober for at least 30 days or present as a danger to themselves or others.” Nor can the home accept veterans who have committed a violent crime within 10 years of applying for admission. Those are the rules.
In addition, some vets may need help covering security deposits, or help re-entering the workforce. Also, some parts of the complex are either too run-down to use or can’t accommodate people with disabilities. And there are only a few stand-alone houses that are suitable for veterans with families — which is a growing category. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, has asked Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to help redesign the Rocky Hill home to help eliminate homelessness among veterans by 2015.
Malloy, a spokesman said, “feels we owe a tremendous amount of support to the people that opted to serve our country ...”
No matter how tight the budget gets, we mustn’t forget the vets.