Minnesota Veterans Home
Also known as:
Function: The mission of the Minnesota Veterans Home is to oversee and guarantee high-quality health care for veterans and dependents in its care.
The Minnesota Soldiers' Home was established in 1887 by the Minnesota state legislature (Laws 1887 c148). In 1967 the Home's name was officially changed to the Minnesota Veterans Home (Laws 1967 c148). Its purpose is to provide care for honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. military services who are unable to support and care for themselves. At the time of its establishment, the legislature appropriated $50,000 for land and buildings, and $10,000 for the first year of operation. A Home Relief Fund was created to hold the $20,000 provided by the legislature for annual operation after the first year. A Soldier's Relief Fund was also established to pay for care to veterans in their own homes. Both funds still exist. The home receives money from two other sources besides the state: a per capita allowance is paid by the federal government, and residents who have pension incomes pay part of it to the home.
A board of trustees was created to administer the home. The Board located the first veterans home on 50 acres donated by the city of Minneapolis near the confluence of Minnehaha Creek and the Mississippi River. The home opened in November of 1887 in existing buildings. Construction of new buildings began in May of 1888. From its establishment until 1971 the home was operated by a commandant along military lines. The commandant was assisted by an adjutant, who kept records, and a quartermaster, who purchased supplies. A surgeon and a chaplain were also on the staff. In 1971 the position of commandant was abolished and replaced by an administrator. A shift was made away from a military style with emphasis given to creating a homelike atmosphere in the institution. A second Minnesota Veterans Home was opened in Hastings in 1978 in the buildings vacated by the Hastings State Hospital (Laws 1977 c453). A third veterans home opened in LuVerne in 1994. As of 2014, Minnesota's five state Veterans Homes are located in Fergus Falls, Hastings, Luverne, Minneapolis and Silver Bay.
1975 Minn. Laws Chap. 61 abolished the board of trustees of the Minnesota Veterans Home and transferred all of its employees to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Inspections performed by the Minnesota Department of Health during the time period ranging from September 1986 to July 1987 found numerous serious health and safety violations. For a brief period, Governor Rudy Perpich transferred the administration of the veterans homes to the Department of Human Services by Reorganization Order No. 149.
In August of 1987, Governor Perpich appointed a blue-ribbon commission to study operations and governance of the homes as well as the long-term health care needs of Minnesota veterans. The governor's charge for the commission was: to develop a blueprint that will address the health care and related needs of disabled and elderly veterans and eligible family members into the next century. (For more on the Commission, see Reports section below).
On February 18, 1988, Governor Perpich issued Executive Order No. 88-3 creating a transitional board of directors for the Minnesota Veterans Home to plan and manage the transition of the Minnesota veterans homes from the Department of Human Services to a permanent board of directors in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
1988 Minn. Laws Chap. 699 reassigned veterans home administration to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and created a new 9-member Veterans Home Board of Directors to oversee operations.
On November 19, 2007, the Veterans Home Board was eliminated via Reorganization Order No. 194, and the duties and responsibilities of the board were transferred to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.
Commandants: (none listed) 1887-1890; McMillian, Captain Thomas, 1891-1900; Compton, Captain James, 1901-1908; Barnard, Col. F. H., 1909-1912; Harries, Col. W. H., 1913-1918; Dubay, Peter F., 1919-1920; Towler, Silas H., 1921-1930; Boyce, Wm. R., 1931-1934; Pederson, F. W., 1935-1936; Downey, W. E., 1937-19(46?); none listed in legislative manuals, 1947-1962; Soderling, Richard, 1963-1964; Renzaglia, Frindo D., 1965-1966; Miller, Donald M., 1967-1968; Onslett, E. C., 1969-1970; Administrators: Sherman, Otis C., 1971-1972; Gregg, William J., 1973-1979; Donaldson, Jean, 1980-; Administrator, LuVerne home (opened 1994); Pamela Burrows, 1993-
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