New Cleveland veterans facility not 'nursing home,' say organizers

photo Joe Davis, local Bradley County veterans assistant, holds up a map of a piece of land off Westland Drive in Cleveland, Tenn., that members of the Tennessee Veterans Home Board hope will be the future site of a nursing home serving vets all over the Southeast Tennessee area.

VETERANS' HOME IMPACT• Estimated jobs: 260• Labor cost: Estimated $5.5 million annually• Local goods and services purchased: Estimated $8 million annuallySource: Bradley County Office of Veterans Services.

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The future veterans home here is not a nursing home, but rather a living center, donors and veterans say.

"It's not a nursing home," Korean War veteran Bill Norwood said.

The proposed $23.2 million facility reflects the latest design for veterans homes from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It will be on 28 acres off Westland Drive.

"We want veterans to feel at home," said Joe Davis, Bradley County veterans services officer and secretary for the Tennessee Veterans Home Board.

The anonymous donors contributing $3 million to the local portion of the funds for the home made that clear to the county's Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council late last year.

One of the donors' stipulations is that the home not be named for an individual or individuals. It instead should be named to honor all veterans, according to the November 2011 letter of stipulations, "who have served and sacrificed their lives to ensure our liberty."

Both Montgomery County/Clarksville and Bradley County/Cleveland are planning for veterans homes that will add to the list of Tennessee homes already in Knoxville, Murfreesboro and Humboldt. The Montgomery County home was funded last year. On Monday, Gov. Bill Haslam announced the Bradley County home funding is in the next proposed state budget.

The home will have 108 beds, and adult day care there remains a possibility, according to Larry McDaris, director of veteran services for Bradley County.

The home will have single-occupancy rooms as part of "houses" that will be clustered around a central "neighborhood" gathering area, officials said. The VA changed its design to single-occupancy rather than double occupancy rooms in 2010 to create a more homelike atmosphere.