Veterans home killed

March 21, 2001

Veterans home killed


Washington County veterans were disappointed Wednesday by yet another setback in their 14-year struggle to get the state to build a local nursing home for them.

A Maryland General Assembly committee balked at spending $75,000 to study the need for a veterans home in Western Maryland.

"They keep turning it down and turning it down. One of these days they might have a war and then they'll remember the veterans," said Jim Sprecher, president of the Washington County Joint Veterans Council, who learned the news Wednesday.

Supporters came close to getting funding two years ago, when Gov. Parris Glendening put money for a study in his budget. But the Appropriations Committee cut the funding on a technicality and it was never restored.


Appropriations Committee members don't feel there's a need for a second veterans home in Maryland because there are empty beds at a home in Charlotte Hall, Md., said Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington.

Hecht and Del. George C. Edwards, D-Allegany/Garrett, were the only lawmakers in the committee who voted for the study.

"I'm frustrated too. Frankly, I think this is just an issue that's lost its opportunity," Hecht said.

Sprecher and Ray Linebaugh, joint veterans council secretary, said they don't think Washington County lawmakers worked hard enough on getting the money.

"I don't think Sue Hecht has been a friend to the veterans of Western Maryland. We are mighty disappointed in her," Linebaugh said.

Hecht said the project is a tough sell in the legislature.

Committee members haven't been swayed by her argument that a 3.5-hour drive to Charlotte Hall is unreasonable for the families of Western Maryland veterans.

Two other strikes were an opposition letter from a statewide women veterans organization and the fact that local veterans didn't come to Annapolis and lobby on behalf of the study.

Sprecher said he didn't know there was a hearing.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he was disappointed at the setback.

"Those people saved Democracy. They deserve a little comfort in their old age," he said.

Linebaugh said he isn't giving up on the veterans home.

"We are not going to go away," he said.

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