'Domiciliary' to open at VA Butler Healthcare

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When VA Butler Healthcare opens its new "domiciliary" next month, it will be debuting a supportive neighborhood of sorts aimed at giving at-risk veterans a chance to prepare for living in the community at large.

The domiciliary is meant to provide temporary residential rehabilitation services for veterans who are homeless or have behavioral health or substance abuse problems. John Cyprian, director of veterans services for Butler County, said it will be a welcome addition to the network of services provided to local vets.

The 56-bed domiciliary complex on the VA Butler campus in Butler Township comprises five new buildings. The main treatment building includes group therapy rooms, recreation center, computer room, dining hall, life skills training room and crafts room.

The four remaining buildings are townhomes where veterans will reside. The townhomes are open to men and women and can accommodate bariatric patients and disabled people.

"This is a huge thing for the veterans community. Not everybody can go right back into society. This gives an opportunity to transition," Mr. Cyprian said.

VA spokeswoman Amanda Kurtz said the target date for occupancy is the week of Nov. 12, and she expects the 56 units to be filled. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building is set for 10 a.m. today.

The idea of the townhome community is to simulate apartment-style living. Each furnished unit is equipped with a full kitchen, washer and dryer. Veterans are responsible for cleaning the units, purchasing groceries, cooking and washing laundry. Ms. Kurtz said the program allows for stays ranging from 38 days to six months. The average admission into the program is 90 days.

The $8.5 million project began in 2010. It is located behind the main building on the VA campus, along New Castle Road.

The old domiciliary was a dormitory-style building that was not handicapped-accessible nor did it have an area for female veterans.

The new domiciliary is one of three construction projects on the campus. Construction is progressing on a new community living center, a 54,000-square-foot nursing facility for 60 veterans. Also, a new three-story outpatient building of 168,000 square feet is being built.

The VA has been open since 1947 and serves 18,000 veterans from Western Pennsylvania and Ohio with primary and specialty medical care as well as mental health services.

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Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.


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