Some units have no air conditioning, there are four people to a room and not one building is handicap accessible at the state veterans home located in Rocky Hill. Fox Connecticut sat down with the commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Veterans Affairs, Linda Schwartz, to discuss the uses and challenges of running a facility built in 1938.
“A lot of people don’t want to come to a place like this,” Schwartz told us candidly.
The Rocky Hill veterans home is barracks style living. Each veteran gets a double bed and a locker. Most of the wings have air conditioning and sprinklers, but those are a recent addition to the 92 acre, 428 bed campus. Current staffing levels could not handle the Rocky Hill residential units at full capacity, according to Schwartz.
“For our residential program with a couple hundred people in it we only have one person as a supervisor on the evening,” she said.
At the heart of Rocky Hill’s issues is a lack of funding, said Schwartz.
“We’ve put in for grants, and we’ve put in for funding, but it just hasn’t really been as successful as we had hoped. In the last 10 years we’ve been able to bring $50 million in, but it really needs a lot more.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he has spoken with the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, about allocating federal funds to Rocky Hill and to the issue of veterans’ homelessness.
“We’re going to make full use of that willingness to work with us, that commitment that he has made to me as a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee and make sure that Rocky Hill receives the attention it needs, but even more important that the issue of homelessness is addressed because that’s bigger than Rocky Hill,” Sen. Blumenthal said.