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Germantown works to help fund Veterans Home

With more than 3,500 estimated U.S. veterans currently living in Germantown, city officials are making sure that those who served their country are afforded the benefits they deserve.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen recently approved a $50,000 “matching grant” to fund the future West Tennessee Veterans Home. The donation is contingent on Germantown residents contributing a balanced amount.

“We’re left with the task to ask our community to match,” said Mayor Mike Palazzolo.

If raised, Palazzolo said the total amount of funding from the city would exceed that from every other municipality except Arlington, where the veterans home is slated to be built.

The project was born at the grassroots level and is being driven by hometown volunteers. It’s projected to cost $72 million for construction and its first year of operation.

The issue is personal to Alderman Mary Ann Gibson, who’s husband is a Marine.

“They earned it,” she said. “We need to build it.”

Since December, Gibson, who is also vice mayor, has helped create a committee dedicated to matching the city’s pledge.

The group is trying several avenues to raise funds.

“We are asking for donations of $100,” Gibson said. “Then you reach out to 10 more folks to secure that $100. If we did that for every veteran we would be well over the money we need.”

The committee has also partnered wit local restaurants to raise money and consciousness.

On Feb. 4, the Germantown Commissary volunteered to donate 10 percent of its profits to the veterans home. Gibson hopes other restaurants will follow suit.

“We can’t do this without folks like that,” she said, referring to the Commissary’s Walker Taylor.

Volunteers will also begin taking donations for the West Tennessee Veterans Home outside of local grocery stores.

The ultimate vision is for a 144-bed facility that will give veterans in Shelby, Fayette and Tipton counties a nearby facility where they can get nursing and rehab therapy or even long-term care if needed. Currently there is not a veterans’ skilled nursing center within 100 miles. The closest facility is in Humbolt, Tenn.

All donations are going toward the construction costs. Operational costs, such as for brochures and banners, are funded by the organization’s sales of T-shirts and other support items at local festivals and other events.

West Tennessee Veterans Home, Inc., is a 501©(3)non-profit corporation founded for the purpose of obtaining the necessary resources to build a State Veterans Home to primarily serve the Veterans in Shelby, Fayette and Tipton counties.

The facility will help serve over 66,000 veterans.

Local funds have to hit 35 percent of that amount ($25.2 million) before 65 percent funding from the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs will kick in to complete the financing.

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