By Kelli Cook
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – It’s a project that has been in the works since the early 2000′s.
The construction for a new 126 bed Tennessee State Veterans home in Arlington is finally underway.
Local and state officials gathered Friday morning for the groundbreaking ceremony on Memphis Arlington Road.
It’s hard to believe that it’s taken over 17 years to get to this point.
The $55 million state of the art skilled nursing facility will be built across 28 acres of land in Arlington, but before even the first million was raised, there was Holly and Don Swogger.
Neither one of them served in the military, but the idea that many veterans in Shelby County would have to drive up to 3 hours to the closest veterans home in Humboldt, Tennessee was troubling for them.
“We’re talking about veterans you know that have given just everything for us, so it’s easy,” said Holly Swogger.
The Swoggers helped lead the initial grassroots local effort to raise over $20 million.
Local and state support was needed first before federal funding could be secured.
The Swoggers would reach out to whomever would listen.
“I mean it was a part of our marriage. I mean she would go to every tv show. She would go to every Kiwanis group, every civics organization that wanted to hear about it,” said Don Swogger.
Friday, the Swoggers and a slew of other local and state leaders gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony that will soon be available to 77,000 veterans living in Southwest Tennessee, 75% of them over the age of 55.
“We’re going to do rehab, long-term care happening, short-term rehab where hip and knee replacement, those types of things. Get people better and get them home,” said Ed Harries, Executive Director of Tennessee State Veterans Home.
The land will house 7 one story buildings consisting of 18 private beds in each.
The facility will care for veterans, their spouses and some gold-star parents.
The home will also employ 200 full time and part time positions with a $10 million regional impact.
Officials plan to have the new home completed in the next two-and-a-half years.