NC lawmakers condemn Fayetteville veteran home's hasty shutdown: 'We're better people than this'

Monique John Image
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Lawmakers condemn Fayetteville veteran home's hasty shutdown
Some North Carolina lawmakers expressed worry over how the facility fell into disrepair so quickly--and that vulnerable veterans appear to have been neglected in the process.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Several state legislators expressed disdain Tuesday over how the state's Department of Military and Veteran Affairs decided to shut down one of its veterans homes in Fayetteville.

North Carolina lawmakers expressed worry over how North Carolina State Veterans Home Fayetteville fell into disrepair so quickly--and that vulnerable veterans appear to have been neglected in the process.

The state VA's Deputy Secretary Brian Pierce explained in detail why it's closing the home, saying it has unsafe conditions due to moisture and flooding risks. However, lawmakers say the shutdown has been mishandled.

"We made a mountain out of a molehill of mistakes of this thing," said Rep. Ed Goodwin. "I hate to see the thing just go away because we don't have enough smart people and the wherewithal to figure that out for soldiers who risked their tail.

"We're better people than this."

Some lawmakers expressed frustration that the state VA knew there were serious repairs needed since 2021 but didn't alert them of the problems sooner.

"I don't recall at any time during the budget process those being flagged or brought to our attention during the budget process which would have been really being helpful," said Republican Senator Ted Alexander.

Lawmakers also say their constituents have been making complaints.

"I had a couple of folks tell me that payment continuity was supposed to be promised and it didn't happen," said Republican Representative George G. Cleveland.

Pierce says the VA has not received complaints from residents and their families of reimbursements or travel they were promised. He also says the VA did its best to mitigate the building's poor conditions and find solutions as they were being assessed from 2018 to 2023.

"We don't assess it as a factor of not taking care of the building. We were doing regular, cyclical maintenance on the building as we understood," Pierce said. "We identified a problem. We tried to come up with a solution."

However, Sen. Dean Proctor, a Republican of the state senate, says there needs to be accountability.

"That building should last for at least 50 years and somebody has to take responsibility for this thing."

Families tell ABC11 that the shutdown has forced their relatives to move and is taking a toll.

Louise Sweeney says she had to move her father two hours away to the state home in Kinston.

"I think he's comfortable being there. He likes it. Now it is a hardship for me, though."

Pierce says there are still three residents at the veterans home that need to move out by Thursday. Two have their plans squared away but the third is meeting with their legal rep and the VA's relocation task force to solidify their plans.