BRISTOL, R.I. (May 22, 2015) – Governor Gina M. Raimondo, U.S. Representatives James Langevin and David N. Cicilline, members of the Rhode Island General Assembly and veterans broke ground today on a new Rhode Island Veterans Home. Rhode Island voters approved a $94 million bond in 2012 for a new 208-bed home to serve the state's veterans. The new Veterans Home will be built on the 110-acre site of the current Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol.
"We have a sacred obligation to serve those who served on our behalf," said Governor Raimondo. "This state-of-the-art Veterans Home will give our veterans an opportunity to live independently and among their fellow veterans, while also providing them with access to the quality services and care they deserve. I'm thrilled to see shovels in the ground for this important project, which is expected to employ more than 400 construction workers across 16 major trades over the next two years."
The new facility will be built to updated federal community living center design guidelines, which maximize independent living and provide additional opportunities for residents to socialize with each other. Building to these guidelines will make the project eligible for federal reimbursements. Raimondo lauded Rhode Island's Congressional delegation for their support of the state's application for a State Veterans Home Construction grant.
"Rhode Island voters overwhelmingly supported the construction of a new Veterans Home because they recognized the need and they feel, as do I, that our veterans deserve the very best care possible," said Congressman Langevin. "This project will provide Rhode Island veterans with high-quality, specialized care, a safe place to recover and the dignity and respect they earned in brave service to our country."
"I am honored to take part in this groundbreaking for a project that will benefit Rhode Island's veterans community," said Congressman Cicilline. "It is critical that we ensure Rhode Island veterans always have access to the exceptional care and benefits they have earned by serving our nation."
Raimondo, Langevin and Cicilline were joined by Lt. Governor Daniel McKee, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and members of the Rhode Island General Assembly, including Senator Walter Felag (Chair, Committee of Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs) and Representatives Jan Malik (Chair, Rhode Island House Committee on Veterans Affairs) and Raymond Gallison (Chair, Rhode Island House Committee on Finance). Rhode Island Health and Human Services Secretary Elizabeth Roberts, Director of Human Services Melba Depeña Affigne and Director of Administration Michael DiBiase also participated in the groundbreaking. Kim A. Ripoli, Associate Director of the Rhode Island Division of Veterans Affairs and a retired Marine, served as the emcee for the groundbreaking program.
"I want to thank the citizens of Rhode Island for supporting the construction of a new Veterans Home in Bristol," said Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Daniel Evangelista. "When our country called us to service, we didn't hesitate. When the voters learned how much we needed a new Veterans Home, they didn't hesitate either. I will be forever grateful."
The Rhode Island State Board of Soldiers Relief broke ground on the first Rhode Island Veterans Home in 1890. When it first opened, the Veterans Home served Rhode Island veterans of the Civil War and provided living quarters and meals for veterans. The current facility was built in 1955 with additions added in 1969, 1976 and 1989. Since its initial founding 125 years ago, the mission of the Veterans Home has expanded to provide a full continuum of care for Rhode Island's veterans, including skilled nursing care.
"Our veterans deserve a beautiful new home. This is something the people of Rhode Island overwhelmingly supported and they want to ensure our veterans have the care and support that is worthy of their sacrifice. I salute all the men and women who made this project a reality, including Governor Raimondo and former Governor Lincoln Chafee, as well as Representatives Raymond Gallison and Jan Malik, and State Senator Walter Felag, and everyone else who worked so hard to get us to this point," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a former Army Ranger.
"This new facility will honor our veterans' service by providing them with the specialized, high-quality health care they need," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "Thanks to Governor Raimondo and former Governor Chafee, the General Assembly, the Division of Veterans Affairs and Department of Administration, and the Providence VA for all your hard work on this project."
The new home is scheduled to open by the end of 2017. Peregrine Group, a veteran-owned, Rumford-based contractor, will lead the design and construction of the project. Brewster Thornton Group Architects, a Providence-based, women-owned enterprise, was awarded the contract for architectural and engineering services. Gilbane Construction will serve as the construction manager for the project.