WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 14, 2011, 09:51 AM

State funding for the veterans home in Lisbon may be reduced following a generous donation

Lisbon, ND (WDAY TV) - Some state funding could be cut for the North Dakota Veterans home in Lisbon. The house voted to cut its budget after a generous donation was made. Some veterans say they're being punished by the state.

George Scull is a Navy veteran. You could say after 26-years of living at the veteran’s home, he is well seasoned.

GEORGE SCULL - Navy Veteran: "I've never seen combat myself, but most of these guys in here have and they've put their life on the line for this country."

Scull is one of many here not too pleased after a house ruling scale back veterans home funding.

George Scull: "It’s wrong."

After Melvin Norgard died in 1992 he left the mineral rights to 120-acres of prime oil land in Western North Dakota to the vets’ home.

Last year the veterans home received $258,000 dollars of that money and it might receive millions in the future. Because of that money the state house voted to cut some of the budget to the veteran’s home.

George Scull: "It’s crazy; the donations that come here are donated to the home, period."

LARRY HERTWIG - Army Veteran: "I don't think the government or the state should penalize those that donate."

The veterans home asked for more than $126,000 for landscaping at the new building and repairs to the old one. The house then revamped the budget to the state funded home and said those repairs must come out of the donated mineral income.

George Scull: "And the states saying hey, kiss my butt, because we want that money back in our funds."

Scull and others worry that if the revamped budget gets passed it will cause future donors to shy away, for fear their money won't go where they want it.

George Scull: "The money should go exactly where it was given to. And if they do this, it could really mess things up."

North Dakota veterans are speaking out against changes to the state Veterans Home budget. The North Dakota House decreased the amount of state money for the Veterans Home due to money the home is receiving through a private donor.

With less state money, Veterans Home officials say they would need to use the donated money to pay for landscaping and irrigation projects. They want the state to pay for the projects, so they can use the donated money for veterans programs.

BRIAN KALK - U.S. Marine Corps (Retired): “I believe the right course of action is to reinstate the appropriate amount back into the Veterans Home's budget and allow this contribution and all other gifts to the home to go to support above and beyond what normally would be allocated for the Veterans Home.”

State officials say they have received a number of e-mails and calls about the matter. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet determined what it will recommend for the veterans' budget.