Feature: Veterans' Funding Hangs in the Balance
From Missouri Digital News: https://mdn.org
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
MDN Menu

MDN Home

Journalist's Creed


MDN Help

MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News
Lobbyist Money Help  

Feature: Veterans' Funding Hangs in the Balance

Date: April 11, 2012
By: Mark Hodges
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HJR 45 HJR 79

Missouri veterans say they need a reliable source of funding for veterans' homes and cemeteries.
RunTime:  2:53
OutCue:  SOC


Actuality:  BELLS.WAV
Run Time:  00:04
Description: NAT: Cemetery bells

Like many Missouri veterans, Stan Spotswood is turning to a state veterans cemetery for his final resting place.

Actuality:  SPOTS.WAV
Run Time:  00:19
Description: "Then the person that's deceased is buried, like the one they're doing..." "...like the one they're, yeah. After the family's gone, then we transport the body down there, and put it in the grave liner." "Can we walk over there?" "Sure, sure."

But the Missouri veterans fund is running out of money.

The state has tightened the budget over the past several years, and veteran Ralph Thomas isn't happy about it.  


Actuality:  THOMAS.WAV
Run Time:  00:18
Description: "We don't have continuous funding. It's every year they've had to fund it on a case basis, and trying to get the funding has been difficult. Hopefully this year with our presence here and talking to our representatives, we'll have the option to get this bill passed so we don't have to come here every year with our hand out every year for our veterans homes."

Missouri veterans homes welcome any veteran, regardless of income, disability or time served.

Those veterans homes would be hit the hardest if lawmakers don't agree on a solution soon.

Leonard Armontrout served in the Navy back in 1945 and was in a fleet that occupied Japan.

Now, he lives in the Mexico veterans home.

Actuality:  ARMONT.WAV
Run Time:  00:12
Description: "Oh, it's a very nice place. Very nice. You know, there comes a time in everybody's life, if they live long enough, they need care, probably. And I don't know of a better place to get it than here."

But veterans homes could close unless the legislature agrees on a solution.

Now, lawmakers are working on a bill that would bring more money into the veterans fund through the Missouri Lottery.

It's made it through the House, now it's up to the Senate to send it on to the Governor.

Senator Tim Green has a veterans home in his St. Louis County district.

He says there are better ways to solve the funding problem.

Actuality:  GREEN.WAV
Run Time:  00:22
Description: "Well I think originally it was the boarding fees on the boats, and that's what the Governor proposed. The other alternative is the lottery. I think we would lose revenue if we lower the prize turnout of the lottery tickets. What issue comes up to debate will determine how we fund it, and that issue is yet to come up with four weeks in the session left."

The Missouri Lottery and Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association would both be affected by the changes and might lose money from the deal.

Representatives from those organizations declined to comment.

But at the heart of the issue, there are veterans like Armontrout who wouldn't want to move out from Missouri's veterans homes.

Actuality:  ARMON2.WAV
Run Time:  00:17
Description: "Not intentionally... not willingly, I'd rather stay right here. Only place better is home, of course. But there comes a time you can't look after yourself, you have to make a choice. It's just part of life, you know."

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Mark Hodges.