I had the honor of working for Gov. Tony Knowles when he introduced his Pioneers' & Veterans' Home bill. At the time, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi was quoted in the press supporting the idea of housing veterans in all six Pioneers' Homes.
Principi understood that Alaska was a big state with a growing veteran population, and utilizing all six Pioneers' Homes allowed vets to stay closer to home.
Sen. Stevens also endorsed Knowles' bill during his annual address to the Legislature, but when it finally passed, it was contingent on the state receiving funds from the VA.
Frank Murkowski did nothing as senator to fund this program, and while Sen. Lisa Murkowski claimed in her December newsletter that she had found the funding, this too never happened. Why?
Because Gov. Murkowski decided that one home was enough for Alaska's more than 12,000 senior veterans. His administration commissioner, Mike Miller, designated Palmer as the sole veterans' home, ignoring the support of veterans across the state for Knowles' original idea.
There are three lessons here: 1) no matter how hard Lisa Murkowski tries, she plays second fiddle to her dad; 2) Mike Miller isn't going to fight for veterans; and 3) if you want a senator who fights for veterans and is a veteran - vote for Tony Knowles.
Pioneers' Homes Director 1993-2003
Juneau Empire ©2013. All Rights Reserved.