COLORADO — When Nicole De Naray learned of her husband Andy's Parkinson's diagnosis 20 years ago, she knew there would be difficulties. She eventually retired from her job to become his full-time care giver, but five years ago she realized he could no longer be at home.
"I'll admit it's difficult to see someone who was so alive, so vibrant, and so active, he rode his bicycle to work for heaven's sake," said De Naray, "he did everything right."
Andy and Nicole both served in the military. Andy's service included time in the Vietnam War, and when it came time to find a home for him to move into- Nicole naturally looked into options for Veterans.
She was surprised to learn, there was no state long term veteran care facility in Colorado Springs, with all the large military population in the region. Of the five existing facilities, the nearest is an hour away in Florence.
"Oh my gosh I'm like well what do we know now," said De Naray.
These homes save veterans about $3,000 a month, with help from the VA. De Naray wanted her husband to have the care of being in a home tailored to veterans, but didn't want to uproot to another part of the state, with a grand kid here at home.
Instead, De Naray took on the extra cost to keep him in Colorado Springs. She ended up moving herself to downsize and be closer to Andy.
Senator Pete Lee (El Paso County-D) would also like to see a home in Colorado Springs. He says he's working with other legislators to get some sort of legislation presented during the 2020 session. Lawmakers return to work January 8th.
Lee says with such a large population in Colorado, and specifically the springs, it's an unmet need in the state.
"We have to earn the trust faith and confidence of our family members and a big factor in that is time and distance," said Aaron Termain, who served as the Director of the five state long term veteran care facilities for 4 years.
Termain says during his tenure, he was asked about getting a home in Colorado Springs numerous times. Until now, there's not been a serious discussion to make it a reality.
Another concern is the cost- Lee estimates it would be about $35 million on the state's end. If the funding gets approved at the state level, then there would be a match from the VA of 65 percent.