AUSTIN — A one-of-a-kind long-term care facility being built in Tyler got its name today: the Watkins-Logan-Garrison Texas State Veterans Home.
The Texas Veterans Land Board voted unanimously to honor three local heroes — two Medal of Honor recipients and a Tuskegee airman — in naming the home after Travis Earl Watkins, James Marion Logan and Samuel M. Garrison.
“When it came down to it, we just couldn’t pick any one of these heroes over the others, so we picked all three,” Patterson said. “We were all just humbled by their sacrifice.”
Local veterans groups were asked to nominate who should be honored. The three men selected by the VLB today were chosen from the list of names submitted.
Watkins, a master sergeant, served in the U.S. Army, Company H, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for action near Yongsan, Korea in 1950. He was awarded the Bronze Star during World War II for action during the Guadalcanal campaign. His home of record and burial is Gladewater, Texas.
Logan, a technical sergeant, served in the Army, 36th Infantry Division. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on September 9, 1943 in the vicinity of Salerno, Italy. In addition to receiving the Distinguished Service Cross, he was the first living recipient to receive the Texas Medal of Honor. Logan lived in Kilgore prior to his death in 1999 and is buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.
Garrison, a captain, received his training at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Tuskegee, Alabama and served in the first all-black Air Corps Fighter Squadron, Air Force Unit 99th Pursuit Squadron. Garrison earned two Silver Stars and two Bronze Stars. He lived in Tyler until his death in May 2011.
Unlike previous Texas State Veterans Homes, the Smith County home will consist of 10 cottages and one common building. The design approach for each cottage focuses on drawing residents into social connection by mixing the best communal aspects of a home while still maintaining privacy and independence for residents.
An open kitchen, dining room and large table are at the heart of each of the 10 cottages. Family-style meals will be served at the table and residents can enjoy each other’s company afterward in a large living room with a fireplace. This hearth, or communal heart of the home, is what sets this Texas State Veterans Home apart from any other long-term care facility in Texas.
“The kitchen is the heart of any home, and the new Texas State Veterans Home we’re going to build in Smith County takes that into account,” Patterson said. “Instead of one large, hospital-like facility, this home will consist of a cluster of small cottages built to draw residents into family-like social connections around the dinner table.”
A total of 10 private rooms, each with its own bathroom, will flank the hearth. Each cottage will be set up as a “non-lift” facility, where overhead tracks with slings in each resident’s room will provide safe transport of non-ambulatory residents from bed to bath.
The newest Texas State Veterans Home is being built on 20 acres donated by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. The donated land is just north of the Health Science Center, along the west side of Highway 155, just south of County Road 334. The home is being built with a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, with the remaining 35 percent paid for by the Texas Veterans Land Board. The new Texas State Veterans Home will join seven others across the state in Amarillo, Big Spring, Bonham, El Paso, Floresville, McAllen and Temple.
Texas State Veterans Homes around the state. The homes are located in:Texas State Veterans Homes offer a broad spectrum of health care services, comprehensive rehabilitation programs, special diets, recreational activities, social services, libraries, and certified, secured Alzheimer’s units, each with its own secured outdoor courtyard.
For additional information on Texas State Veterans Homes, please call 1-800-252-VETS (8387) or visit the Texas Veterans Land Board website at www.texasveterans.com. Or, find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TXVLB.