Dilapidated Veterans Home Will Not Be Repaired
"When I saw the plumbing I thought, my gosh how have we been able to function? How has it lasted as long as it has? You saw it and it's disgusting," said Veterans Affairs Director Cissy Rucker.
When Rucker came to the VA two months ago, she knew she had inherited problems, but even she was shocked at the extent.
White debris of toilet paper covers the floor of the boiler room, left over from the countless times sewage has overflowed. The 60-year-old plumbing is barely working and heating and air are in poor condition according to a building inspectors report.
"You know the people who live here deserve better, and if we can bring this to light and do something about it then it's worth it," said Rucker.
Mike Hampton of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association saw the problems for himself Tuesday while touring the facility.
"What it drives home to me is our government the legislators, the governor, people that actually control the money here haven't taken care of them," said Hampton.
There is no doubt that VA funds have been mismanaged in the past.
"I think there's been many, many years of neglect, yes. I think that neglect and mismanagement have caused some major issues that we can't fix now," said Rucker.
Hampton says there's blame enough to go around, even among other veterans and watchdog organizations.
"Obviously, we (CVMA) take a little bit of the blame for this because we should have been seeing the conditions of the buildings," said Hampton.
It's mistakes that both Mike and Rucker vow will not be repeated.
"We're not going to allow this situation to be swept under the rug and forgotten," said Hampton.
Now, the big question is where to move all the veterans. Will the VA build a new facility, or sign a contract with a private company? There is also the possibility of smaller regional homes which becoming more popular in other states. Those and other options are on the table, but one thing is sure, they won't stay where they are.