As many military veterans have discovered, returning from war can be a bewildering, otherworldly experience. Simply coming home, readjusting to civilian life and getting settled in a new job can be awkward, uncomfortable, even paralyzing to soldiers accustomed to regimented life and harrowing daily encounters.

In recent decades, the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs has been working to bridge the divide between military and civilian life with a series of programs and projects intended to help ease veterans into their new roles and — if necessary — provide the proper enduring care that they deserve. Southern California in particular has been responsive to the needs of veterans, procuring funds for recently or soon-to-be completed veterans homes in Lancaster, West Los Angeles, Ventura, Fresno and Redding.

The timing couldn’t have been better for many of Ventura County’s 65,000 military veterans, many of whom are beginning to drift toward retirement age. For this reason, among others, the California Department of Veterans affairs (CDVA) viewed Ventura as an ideal location for a new veterans home. After beginning construction almost two years ago at its location on Telephone Road, the $26.5 million Veterans Home of California — Ventura will be completed on Dec. 4 of this year.

The home will serve as the hub of communication and care for veterans in Ventura, connecting veterans, providing daily assistance to those in residential care and handling specific veterans’ cases (such as applications or transfers to nursing care facilities throughout the state). It’s been touted as a structure “built” by veterans for veterans and has ambitious goals for serving Ventura County.

Initially, only 60 Ventura veterans (aged 62 or older or any age with disability) will gain access to long-term residential care, though more than double that number of applications has already been submitted for these beds. While the application process has tried to maintain a first-come basis, the sheer volume of these applications has compelled admissions officers to sort through the requests by need. Veterans with the greatest needs (such as those with disabilities or those who are homeless) and certain distinguishers (including former prisoners of war or medal recipients) will be considered first in this process.

When operational, the home seeks to provide veterans the assistance that they would receive in a caring, attentive environment. “The veterans home won’t be just an institution — it will be their home,” public information officer Jeanne Bonfilio said. “We will be assisting them with any necessary activities of daily living, whether it’s transporting them to medical appointments or just taking medications.” The home will provide daily meal choices, community activities and, in the future, an adult health care program designed to help improve veterans’ self-care — delaying or preventing placement in a nursing facility.

Although the home has yet to be completed, the surrounding community has already been donating generously, in many forms, to the new building. “We’ve had everything from Nintendo Wiis to blankets, welcome baskets and money being donated for the veterans,” said Bonfilio. The outpouring of support was also appreciated by the home’s administrators, who have been working to create a fully functioning operation and seamless transition for veterans who will soon call the building “home.”   

Dec. 4 is the grand opening of the Veterans Home of California — Ventura, located at 10900 Telephone Road. For those who cannot attend but are interested in the home, an additional open house and information session will be scheduled for

Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit www.cdva.ca.gov for any additional information or how to donate to the Vet Fund.

erik@vcreporter.com