Since strong local commitment over the years hasn’t been enough to get a long-planned veterans nursing home built in Bradley County, Tenn., maybe pressure on politicians will, a county commissioner said Monday.
Commissioner Thomas Crye noted in a prepared statement that local and state requirements were met years ago — including 28 acres of donated land and $7 million in cash, 35 percent of the construction cost.
But the $40 million project has fallen, not risen, on the national priority list, Crye said, from eighth in 2010 to 11th last year. The initial plan called for 120 beds, but now only 108 are planned because of increased construction costs.
“Our dilemma is politics at the federal level,” he said.
“As new homes are built nationally, we are always left behind and others placed ahead of us,” said Crye, a military veteran himself. ” One can only attribute this to political tinkering with the selection process and the federal government, disgracefully, only paying lip service to the needs of our veterans.”
After commissioners discussed the problem last week, he contacted state Rep. Dan Howell, R-Cleveland. Crye said Howell already had talked about the home with 4th District U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and asked him to communicate with U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, a Johnson City Republican who is chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Crye also slapped at U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who represents part of Bradley County in his 3rd District.
“It appears he is applying the same degree of effort as he did getting funds for the construction of the Chickamauga Dam locks which halted when he was first elected, affecting up-river economy, and only this year obtained funds to renew construction,” Crye said. The two congressmen, Crye charged, are “asleep at the wheel and need to be awakened.”
He didn’t leave out state elected officials, other than Howell, saying they “felt their job was finished when state approval was obtained and failed to look…