I would like to take this opportunity to thank our community for the continued support of our American heroes who live at the Montana Veterans Home. The numerous articles about possibly privatizing or greatly reducing the budget at MVH are very distressing to many of us in the community.
The MVH was created over 100 years ago as a promise to our veterans that should they find themselves in need of nursing care, there would be a safe and skilled place for them to go. The MVH is unique in many ways, one of which is that the income of a veteran is not contingent on his or her ability to live and be cared for at MVH.
Does Sen. Lewis believe that a privatized facility would continue to let veterans live at MVH if there is little or no income coming from those veterans?
These veterans fought for our country to keep us free and now that times are tough, Sen. Lewis feels that this is a good place to cut money.
The MVH generates approximately two-thirds of its own operating costs and the rest comes from special appropriations from the cigarette tax.
We have no idea where the $50,000 staff-income figure comes from, but in our experience, when someone wants to point out how people are paid, you convert all benefits including insurance, workers' compensation and retirement contributions. Seemingly, Sen. Lewis would have you believe that MVH employees are overpaid. However, to put it in context, for what these people do for the veterans in this facility, they are grossly underpaid.
These employees are considered as a family at MVH and to those residents and veterans, this is priceless.
So Sen. Lewis, since you were a longtime state employee, do you feel you were overpaid for your service? Why don't you come out to MVH and try to do the job that these dedicated employees do and then tell them they are overpaid.
The men and women in uniform answered our country's call in its time of need and now it is our responsibility to answer our veterans' needs.
We are the proud parents of a Gulf War veteran, and we shudder to think that, in the event our son needs nursing home care, it all boils down to how much money he has.
The travesty of this whole event is the emotional stress and turmoil this has caused for the residents and their families. These veterans want to know what will become of them. So to our political leaders who think that House Bill 2 is a great idea: Shame on you.
The bottom line is our veterans have earned and deserve this benefit to be able to live out their lives at MVH with honor and security that all Montanans have so graciously granted them.
Michelle and Larry Moore,