Walla Walla home opens doors to veterans

After 13 years of struggles to open a veteran care home in Walla Walla, it finally opened Saturday.

One veteran looked on as history was made in his home town this weekend.

"This may be our last endeavor," U.S Veteran Don Schack said.

Walla Walla Air Force veteran Don Schack served in the U.S. Military for 33 years.

Schack, was one of hundreds watching as the Walla Walla Veteran's Home opened its doors Saturday.

A feat he didn't think was possible 13 years ago, when he learned funding was cut for the clinic.

It was then that Schack knew he had to join the fight to help others like him.

"We said wait a minute we can't let this happen to us in Walla Walla," Schack added.

Schack and other community members formed a task force of city council members and state representatives to battle for funding.

"We need to have this facility here because it is a vital place to be for the 14 counties the 77,000 that they treat," Schack said.

They spent more than a decade appealing to Senator Patty Murray and other state legislators.

Construction in Walla Walla finally got underway once they were able to grab the attention of the major stake holders involved.

"After ten years of frustration I'm looking at this and saying it's beyond what I believed we could do," Schack said.

The new $34 million dollar estate has 80 private bedrooms, each with their own bathroom and mountain view.

"Truly allows the veterans to live like they are still at home, they get incorporated with all the different activities and to not really have much of a change," Walla Walla Veteran Home superintendent Lael Hepworth said.

Hepworth said traditional nursing homes often have long hallways, and limited personal space.

However, this facility is now a place where veterans can call home, all while receiving treatment.

Schack saying it was a battle definitely worth fighting for.

"For the rest of the state and the nation all I can tell you folks is do not quit, keep going, push, do whatever it takes. We just have to make sure our senators and the rest of them understand who we are, we’re the people of America make it happen," Schack concluded.

The new Walla Walla Veterans Home plans to start moving in 20 of the 80 expected residents in March and officials anticipate full capacity to be reached by the end of the year.

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