CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- During the last six years, the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls has played a key part in providing a thriving environment for our local vets. Officials say the demand for what the facility provides has been growing ever since.
"When this building was opened, the idea was to draw within an area that was 75 miles from here and indeed that's what has happened,” says Mark Wilson, Commandant, Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls.
Wilson says the idea was to bring a veterans home closer to the communities where veterans live. “So you have to drive to Milwaukee or Minneapolis, it would be better if we had a veterans home right within our area,” he said.
The Chippewa Valley is full of veterans who have given their time and service to our country. The Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls is one of three 24-hour skilled nursing care facilities for Wisconsin vets. Between Chippewa Falls, King, and Union Grove, the department of veterans affairs is serving nearly 1,000 veterans and their spouses.
The facility focuses on caring for those who are unable to care for themselves. Services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and more. The facility also provides unique activities and experiences dedicated to its members.
Wilson says there's a large need for more care facilities that cater specifically to Wisconsin veterans." The plan being considered is we place more facilities like Chippewa Falls, like this one around the state…for instance Platteville, Superior, Green Bay, La Crosse because what we found in 2013 is that when you bring a veterans home to a local community, veterans are anxious to live there because they are surrounded by their family members," said Wilson.
The Chippewa Falls facility filled within 4 months of opening back in 2013. Wilson says vets benefit from being surrounded by others who share similar experiences. "We have a lot of Korean War veterans, we have Vietnam veterans and all of those folks tend to view themselves, not so much as brothers but as kindred spirits. They've had similar life experiences and now that they've come to the autumn of their lives it's nice to reconnect," said Wilson.
There are currently more than 100 applicants on a waiting list. “What the state has done is almost as an experiment placed this 72 bed facility in the Eau Claire, Chippewa area where the demand was high amongst veterans,” said Wilson.
Wilson says the state's long term plan has been to construct care facilities where veterans already are.