Excerpted from Fauquier Times, John Toler
A large and enthusiastic group of veterans, state political leaders, Fauquier County officials and others gathered at Vint Hill on Thursday afternoon for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Puller Veterans Care Center.
Scheduled to open in late 2019, the 128-bed facility on 30 acres has been designed to provide high quality care for Virginia veterans in a home-like setting. Also included are spaces for physical and occupational therapy and a pharmacy.
It is named for the family of the late U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller (1898-1971), USMC, who served in actions in Central America, World War II and Korea; his son Lt. Lewis B. Puller Jr. (1945-1994), a Marine who served in Vietnam, where he was seriously wounded; and Lewis Jr’s. wife, Linda T. “Toddy” Puller (D), who served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1992-1999 and the Senate from 1999-2015. Mrs. Puller is remembered as “the Senate’s most forceful and authoritative voice for veterans’ issues.”
Richard Gerhardt, chairman of the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors, represented the Fauquier County officials involved in the bringing the state-owned and -operated veterans care center to Vint Hill. “As a community that treasures our veterans and their families, this is an honor we don’t take lightly,” said Gerhardt. “This will allow us to further support our veterans in Fauquier County.”
Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins, a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia Army National Guard, introduced the keynote speaker, Gov. Terry R. McAuliffe. “He has never stopped working from day one that we have the most military-friendly state in the nation,” noted Hopkins.
McAuliffe listed several veterans’ support programs initiated during his term, as well as now having 30 Veterans’ Service Offices throughout the commonwealth. He was especially proud that Virginia was designated the first state to be certified by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development “…to have functionally ended veteran homelessness in our state.” So far, 3,189 homeless veterans have been moved into permanent housing, according to the governor.