Legislative column: Caring for West Virginia’s veterans

This week the Senate has taken up action on a very important measure, one that relates to the care and well being of our state veterans. This week, the Senate Military Committee I am a vice chair for endorsed a bill which would allow for construction of a 120-bed veterans nursing home in Raleigh County.

The bill, Senate Bill 523, would allow the West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner to transfer 17 acres next to the Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley to the Secretary of Veterans’ Assistance for the new proposed center.

Currently, the state’s only existing nursing home for veterans, located in Clarksburg, has a waiting list. West Virginia’s veteran population is now more than 200,000 and there is an overwhelming and growing need for additional nursing home beds to accommodate vets.

We had the distinct pleasure of inviting World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams to speak to the committee and he spoke in favor of this proposed bill. He stated that this has been a need for a long time. He also told the committee that he heard the wait is about three years and there are 150 individual applications on file in Clarksburg seeking use of the facility.

The potential opening of this facility would provide services to the many veterans in Southern West Virginia and allow the state to better care for the many brave and heroic men and women who so admirably served the United States and West Virginia. West Virginia has a long and proud history when it comes to citizens rising in aid of liberty and freedom.

The bill also allows funds for construction and operation of the nursing home to be appropriated from the Veterans Lottery Fund, Veterans Nursing Homes Building Fund, and the Veterans Nursing Home Debt Service Fund.

Also this week, the Senate and I welcomed several pages from my district and their families to take part in the legislative process. Pages Emily Holman and Kaleigh Marshall both attend Bridge Street Junior High in Wheeling. They were accompanied byt Emily’s parents, Aaron and Terri Holman to the Capitol.

The Page Program gives students, grades 6 through 12, from West Virginia’s public and nonpublic schools an opportunity to serve as Pages in the West Virginia Legislature during the regular session. Pages serve members of the House and Senate in a nonpartisan capacity, within the Legislature.

This program provides students with a meaningful and exciting experience in state government in which they meet and work with other young people, their state representatives and those from different areas of the state. It gives students firsthand learning experiences regarding the role of the legislators in the state and allows students the chance to share thoughts and ideas with legislators as lawmakers formulate and make decisions affecting every citizen.

If you should have any questions or comments regarding any issues on any other pieces of legislation when they come before the Legislature, please contact me at my Charleston office. My address is: Senator Jack Yost, State Capitol Complex, Building 1, Room 214W, Charleston, WV 25305. My telephone number is (304) 357-7984 and my secretary is Wanda Casto. When calling the toll free number 1-877-565-3447, ask to be transferred. I encourage my constituents to remain active and part of the legislative process. I look forward to hearing from you.

(Yost, a Democrat from Wellsburg, represents the 1st Senatorial District in the West Virginia Legislature)