Re-use of the closed Knoxville VA hospital

To the editor:

The proposal by the Veterans National Recovery Center (VNRC) is one of three proposals pending before the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for future use of the now closed 39 building VA Hospital Complex in Knoxville.   It aims to use the complex for a healing and training center for homeless, incipient homeless, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) distressed and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) distressed veterans.  Healing therapies will be holistic, involving intensive group counseling and other techniques, nearly all of which are in the standard VA menu of holistic healing therapies.

I know and have heard that many are excited that we may by coming to Knoxville. I have also heard that some in the community may have concerns.  This letter is to address the interests of both groups.

VNRC will work to minimize any negative impacts for Knoxville.  The Knoxville campus will not be a hospital – only a residential facility where healing and training occurs.  Because of costs and regulatory concerns, the VNRC does not intent to license the facility at a higher level at this time, and will thus be precluded from taking certain categories of veterans.

To cover any veterans that may require intensive medical or psychiatric attention, we have made tentative arrangements with the VA in Des Moines as well as the Iowa Veterans Home.  Prior to arrival at VNRC, aggressive screening of applicants will assure that the veterans living on campus will be individuals that want to be helped, and have needs that are within the capabilities of VNRC to heal them.  At the end of the healing period, these veterans will be people that you will be proud to have as your next-door neighbor.

For those that are interested in the economic development of Knoxville, VNRC will be a vital boost that brings wonderful benefits to the Knoxville area. Here is a partial listing:

  1. VNRC brings a campus of the Des Moines Area Community College to Knoxville.  Several have tried to get DMACC to come to Knoxville, but DMACC was unable to because there was an insufficient student body. VNRC offers an instant 1200 person student body to fill the campus, and this is a major attraction for DMACC.  Further, this student body rotates out every two years and is refreshed with a new batch. We will make the VNRC-DMACC campus open to the citizens of Knoxville and all others from southern Iowa that wish to attend, and will hold one dorm building open for that purpose. The long term financial benefit to Knoxville is substantial. Not counting local students, only resident veterans, in our application, we calculate the 70 year economic benefit to the community as $140,000,000. Additionally, William Penn University has recently agreed to join the VNRC Education Planning Group.  This means  that we will also have upper level classes for both a bachelors as well as a masters degree at Knoxville.
  2. VNRC will bring 280 full time positions to the campus. These are professional and managerial positions required to operate the campus on a full-time basis. While they may not all reside in Knoxville, many will. At full staff capacity, the VNRC calculates the 70 year economic benefit to the local area to be = 620,000,000.
  3. VNRC will bring tourism to Knoxville.  The planned Peace Tree Arboretum will be a centerpiece for veterans and day-trippers from Des Moines and Kansas City that with to see the beauty. The Trail of Military Patches, which will be in and around the arboretum, can bring veterans from all over the country that wish to see a huge memorial to various units and ships. It becomes a wonderful exercise trail for the citizens of Knoxville.
  4. VNRC is planning an entrepreneurial center to support the jobs needs of our veterans. This will be franchise centered, and may result in a substantial support base within the Knoxville community.
  5. We are planning a small retail complex on campus to support our veterans, provide retail training for veterans, and support tourism. These retail operations, some of which will be leased to local businesses, are calculated in our application to create $105,000,000 in community benefit over a 70-year period.
  6. For our animal training therapy, we plan to have a facility for training seeing-eye and companion dogs and have a letter of intent from a group to do so.
  7. We bring a people base that can be made available for future industrial expansions.
  8. VNRC can bring a huge transfer of federal revenue to community from the cost of operation, much of which will be paid for by the federal government.
  9. VNRC will bring pride to the Knoxville community, which will be known for housing a vital national experiment for the treatment of homeless and PTSD distressed veterans.

At least 126,000 US military veterans go to sleep without a home every night, many as a result of events not of their own making. Nationally, there is a huge shortage of beds for homeless veterans, but Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has pledged to eliminate homelessness among veterans by within 5 years.

I am proud that Iowa and Knoxville will be part of the solution to this pressing national problem.  The goodwill of citizens of Knoxville and the region is important to the VNRC.  Mutual problem solving will make Knoxville a greater community and an even better place to live than it is today.   I pledge that I will personally work for transparency and open relations with the community, and will continue to meet with people to resolve common problems.

 

Bob Krause, President
Veterans National Recovery Center
PO Box 12007
Des Moines, Iowa 50312

Journal Express

Group seeks buildings at Knoxville Veterans home for recovery center

December 6, 2010 By

A former candidate for the U.S. Senate is leading an effort to acquire the buildings at the Knoxville Veterans home to turn the home into a recovery center for veterans. Bob Krause is the chair of the effort to create the “Veterans National Recovery Center” to help veterans who are suffering from “post traumatic stress disorder” or P-T-S-D.

Krause says P-T-S-D tends to create environments for veterans where they ultimately become homeless. He says the veterans have paranoia and other behavioral issues, and he says it removes them from society. Krause says the veterans often prefer to stay away from normal society because they have trouble coping due to the issues created by P-T-S-D.

Krause says the center would put these veterans through a two-year program to help them deal with the situation. He says the two-year program would train and counsel the veterans and help them build networks with friends and national employers. Krause says there are an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 veterans nationwide that suffer from the problem He says the center could hold 400 to 700 veterans if they were able to acquire the 39 buildings in Knoxville.

Krause says homelessness is now considered a local problem, but he says when it comes to veterans, it is a national problem. He says around half of the veterans who’re are homeless are from the Vietnam era, but they are now seeing an influx of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Krause says the federal government has just asked for proposals for the buildings to get the process underway.

Krause says the application has to be into Washington by February 15th and they expect the Veterans Administration to make a decision in about 90 days. Krause says he expects one or two other applicants will submit proposals to try and gain control of the property. Krause says the center would use federal funding as well as local donations. You can find out more about the plans at: www.vnrc.us.

Radio Iowa

Krause Holds Press Conference and Public Meeting About His VA Proposal

 Posted: Friday, October 22nd, 2010 at 6:26 am
Author: KNIA/KRLS News-Samantha Smith

A press conference was held in Des Moines yesterday followed by a public meeting in Knoxville to formally present a proposal for use of the Knoxville VA campus. Bob Krause, a former state president of the Reserve Officers Association, former state chair of the Iowa Democratic Veterans caucus and former U.S. Senate candidate, presented his plan for a Veterans National Recovery Center in Knoxville. The recovery center would serve homeless and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder veterans by providing training, counseling and personal connectivity to prepare them to productively re-enter the workforce. The proposal states that the integrated services center would serve as a transitional program where homeless veterans and those at risk of homelessness would be able to stay for up to two years. By using the Knoxville VA campus, Krause says the VNRC could house between 900 and 1,400 veterans and their families. Krause plans to submit his proposal to the Department of Veterans Affairs and hopes to lease the facility for $1.00 per year for a 20 year term. Another public meeting will be held on November 3rd at 6pm at the Swamp Fox Pub and Grill followed by a public hearing with VA officials about Extended Use Lease of the campus on November 4th at 7pm in VA building 173.

KNIA/KRLS Radio

Iowa town could host large homeless vet shelter

By William Petroski, Des Moines (Iowa) Register

DES MOINES, Iowa — A vacant former veterans hospital would be converted into a national center for homeless veterans under a proposal being unveiled today by a nonprofit Iowa group.

The facility in Knoxville, which has a population of 7,731 about 35 miles southeast of Des Moines, would house at least 400 homeless veterans, and possibly hundreds more, under plans developed by a group headed by Bob Krause of Fairfield, a retired Army Reserve officer and former head of the Iowa chapter of the Reserve Officers Association.

“The most recent estimate that I have seen is that at least 126,000 U.S. military veterans go to sleep without a home every night,” Krause said Wednesday. “Nationally, there is a huge shortage of beds for homeless veterans.”

The proposed National Veterans Recovery Center would draw homeless veterans nationwide. The veterans would be provided two years of federally subsidized treatment and education programs to rehabilitate them, said Krause, who unsuccessfully sought the Iowa Democratic Party’s U.S. Senate nomination in the June primary.

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs has announced its intention to lease the former Knoxville hospital for up to 75 years to an operation that would provide transitional or permanent housing for homeless veterans or those at risk of becoming homeless. The site, which once housed more than 1,000 patients, covers 163 acres and has 39 buildings.

The Veterans Administration currently operates a veterans’ medical clinic on the grounds, although there are plans to relocate it to another Knoxville site next year. The clinic employs 43 people, including some who split time between Knoxville and a Des Moines veterans medical facility.

Knoxville Mayor Donald Zouette said Wednesday that Krause has a great idea. But he wants to hear more details, such as how the center would be financed and what type of work force would be required.

If Krause’s plans are in order, “I am 100 percent behind him,” said Zouette, who served in the Air Force and the Army Reserve.

Lisa Christie, a spokeswoman for the Central Iowa Health Care System of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, said a public hearing has been scheduled Nov. 4 in Knoxville regarding the Veterans Administration’s lease proposal. She declined to comment on Krause’s plans and said federal officials haven’t set a timetable for making a decision.

James Washington, a businessman and president of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, said he has also established a group with plans to develop the former veterans’ hospital campus. He said he considers his investor group the front-runner to secure the federal government’s long-term lease, but he is definitely interested in working with Krause to have the homeless veterans center become a reality.

“I am highly inclined to work with Mr. Krause because this is an enormous campus,” Washington said. “So there is a potential for growth and working in unison with other developers that have some good ideas.”

Washington, who heads Knoxville Manufacturing, envisions developing the former hospital property with a mix of uses, including residential, industrial and commercial sites. He said a college has expressed interest in using several buildings.

“I think the job creation could be astronomical,” he said.

Patrick Palmersheim, executive director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, said that he supports the concept of finding a use for the vacant Knoxville veterans hospital, and that Krause has a good idea.

“This is well needed,” Palmersheim said. “It’s just too bad that it would be in Knoxville and not closer to Des Moines, where there are more opportunities, as far as employment. That is an issue.”

Air Force Times

Iowa town could host large homeless vet shelter

By William Petroski, Des Moines (Iowa) Register

DES MOINES, Iowa — A vacant former veterans hospital would be converted into a national center for homeless veterans under a proposal being unveiled today by a nonprofit Iowa group.

The facility in Knoxville, which has a population of 7,731 about 35 miles southeast of Des Moines, would house at least 400 homeless veterans, and possibly hundreds more, under plans developed by a group headed by Bob Krause of Fairfield, a retired Army Reserve officer and former head of the Iowa chapter of the Reserve Officers Association.

“The most recent estimate that I have seen is that at least 126,000 U.S. military veterans go to sleep without a home every night,” Krause said Wednesday. “Nationally, there is a huge shortage of beds for homeless veterans.”

The proposed National Veterans Recovery Center would draw homeless veterans nationwide. The veterans would be provided two years of federally subsidized treatment and education programs to rehabilitate them, said Krause, who unsuccessfully sought the Iowa Democratic Party’s U.S. Senate nomination in the June primary.

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs has announced its intention to lease the former Knoxville hospital for up to 75 years to an operation that would provide transitional or permanent housing for homeless veterans or those at risk of becoming homeless. The site, which once housed more than 1,000 patients, covers 163 acres and has 39 buildings.

The Veterans Administration currently operates a veterans’ medical clinic on the grounds, although there are plans to relocate it to another Knoxville site next year. The clinic employs 43 people, including some who split time between Knoxville and a Des Moines veterans medical facility.

Knoxville Mayor Donald Zouette said Wednesday that Krause has a great idea. But he wants to hear more details, such as how the center would be financed and what type of work force would be required.

If Krause’s plans are in order, “I am 100 percent behind him,” said Zouette, who served in the Air Force and the Army Reserve.

Lisa Christie, a spokeswoman for the Central Iowa Health Care System of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, said a public hearing has been scheduled Nov. 4 in Knoxville regarding the Veterans Administration’s lease proposal. She declined to comment on Krause’s plans and said federal officials haven’t set a timetable for making a decision.

James Washington, a businessman and president of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, said he has also established a group with plans to develop the former veterans’ hospital campus. He said he considers his investor group the front-runner to secure the federal government’s long-term lease, but he is definitely interested in working with Krause to have the homeless veterans center become a reality.

“I am highly inclined to work with Mr. Krause because this is an enormous campus,” Washington said. “So there is a potential for growth and working in unison with other developers that have some good ideas.”

Washington, who heads Knoxville Manufacturing, envisions developing the former hospital property with a mix of uses, including residential, industrial and commercial sites. He said a college has expressed interest in using several buildings.

“I think the job creation could be astronomical,” he said.

Patrick Palmersheim, executive director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, said that he supports the concept of finding a use for the vacant Knoxville veterans hospital, and that Krause has a good idea.

“This is well needed,” Palmersheim said. “It’s just too bad that it would be in Knoxville and not closer to Des Moines, where there are more opportunities, as far as employment. That is an issue.”

Army Times

%d bloggers like this: