Countywide : County Considered for Veterans Home

Ventura County is under consideration as a site for a veterans home.

The state plans to build 2,400 living units for veterans by 1995, said William C. Manes, chairman of a 12-member commission making recommendations about where the residences should be. The facilities would be divided into 400-unit complexes scattered throughout Southern California.

"World War II and Korean (War) veterans have the most need for housing of this type," said Manes, who said the needs of aging Vietnam veterans are also rapidly increasing.

The complexes would provide on-site intermediate and skilled nursing care, and a nearby veterans' or private hospital would provide acute medical care, Manes said. Currently, there is only one state-operated veterans home, in Yountville in Northern California. It is the nation's largest facility, housing 1,400 veterans and providing on-site acute medical care.

"The cost to do something like Yountville today is prohibitive," Manes said. "It is looked upon with envy by other states." The facility, built shortly after the Civil War, is home to a large population of Southern California veterans, Manes said.

"It's just indicative of the need for a veterans home in Southern California."

The commission will advise Gov. Pete Wilson on its findings in July, Manes said. The development of the complexes would be staggered, with construction beginning in 1994.

Richard Camacho, president of Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County, said there is a great need for a local veterans home. "We need anything that would deal with veterans, because there's nothing in Ventura County," said Camacho, who estimated that 250,000 veterans live in the area.

Local veterans are forced to travel to Santa Barbara or Los Angeles counties to receive treatment, Camacho said.

"If there's no transportation, you're left out in the cold," he said.

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