POST FALLS — Walter Robinson likes the coffee at the Idaho State Veterans Home in Post Falls.
And yes, that’s a big deal.
The other morning, when his wife, Rowena, arrived, she was surprised when he told her he was enjoying a cup of joe.
“That’s something I haven’t heard in a long time,” she said.
Walter shrugged. “The coffee here is better,” he said. “I can’t stand coffee when it smells burned. It doesn’t smell burned here.”
The 24-year Navy veteran was one of two veterans who recently became the first residents of the new veterans home in Post Falls.
They moved into the 85,000-square-foot facility at 590 S. Pleasant View Road on Feb. 27.
Robinson has a comfortable, bright room of his own, with large windows, a flatscreen TV, seating for guests, and a private bathroom.
Friday, he was joined by his wife and his grandson.
“I believe it’s a big improvement over what I was living in,” the 74-year-old said.
He has already given it a sense of home with a display of family pictures, including one of the couple standing near the Weeping Wall at Glacier National Park.
“It looks like we’re getting ready to take a shower,” he said.
About 300 people attended an unveiling of the veterans home in November, but the opening was delayed several times.
“It’s been a long road,” said Colleen Moon, administrator of the veterans home. “To see it really happen, everybody is happy.”
Idaho Division of Veterans Services broke ground and began site work on the veterans home in late 2020. Fulltime construction began in April 2021, and a “topping out” ceremony was held in August 2021, when the final steel beam of the frame was hoisted into place.
The facility has 64 beds, subdivided into four household wings, each supporting 16 private resident rooms with private bathrooms.
Each of those has its own den, sitting lounge and living area.
There are two dedicated dining areas that will be shared by two households and kitchens along with multiple outdoor patio areas.
A chapel, barber/ beauty shop, bistro, activities center, multipurpose room, sports club and therapy room/gym are included.
A staff of about 25 will grow as residents move in.
Moon said they have a waiting list of about 50. She hopes to transition in a few residents each week.
“I have to bring them in relatively slowly,” she said.
She said this veterans home is dedicated to meeting the needs of its residents and hopes to spoil them. “This is their home. We want them to come here, we want to take care of them,” Moon said.
Staff will only be brought on board following a detailed interview process.
“It’s got to be a good fit,” Moon said.
Rowena Robinson said her husband had been at the Spokane veterans home and was anxiously awaiting the opening of the Post Falls site.
When it did, “he was pretty happy,” she said.
It puts him closer to his wife and other family members in Coeur d’Alene.
“They’re very good to us,” Rowena said.
Walter Robinson liked the privacy of his room, while at the same time being able to venture out in his wheelchair to other living areas.
“The staff seems to be Johnny on the spot when they need to be,” he said.
Walter Robinson was raised in Jackson, Ala., and is a diehard Crimson Tide fan. He served in the Navy from 1969 to 1994. He served in Vietnam and Desert Storm and was on board the USS Enterprise, the USS Vinson and the USS Ranger.
He held the rank of a Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman when he left the military.
“I really enjoyed it,” Walter said.
He likes the Post Falls veterans home not just because it’s new, but for the friendly staff and yes, the food, which he said is great.
“That’s important,” Rowena said, smiling.
She is confident her husband is in good hands.
“They’ll take care of him,” she said.
Walter, a man of few words, agreed.
“I haven’t found nothing to complain about,” he said.
By BILL BULEY Staff Writer