Flags, bunting, patriotic tunes and speeches marked the 25th anniversary of the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center, the first state-run nursing home in Kentucky devoted solely to those who served in the military.
Gov. Matt Bevin, who was a captain in the Army, expressed appreciation to the 238 veterans who now receive care at the center.
“I am grateful to those of you who have served,” Bevin said during a short address.
After an outdoor ceremony, Bevin went inside to speak with individual residents, including the oldest, Clarence Paris, 104, a veteran of the Navy.
“I thanked him for his service,” Bevin said. “We talked about all the things he’s seen in 104 years. ... For me it was just an honor to meet him.”
For his part, Paris said meeting the governor was “fabulous.”
The center admitted its first resident in late August 1991, and it has served 3,141 veterans over 25 years. Since 1991, Kentucky has opened two other veterans nursing homes, one in Hazard in Eastern Kentucky and the other in Hanson in Western Kentucky.
The Wilmore center was initially called the Kentucky Veterans Center. In 1998, it was renamed for Lt. Col. George Thomson, a veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars, who lobbied for funding for the center; and Beatrice Hood, who was the center’s first administrator.
Veterans of the Army make up 132 residents, followed by the Navy with 44. There are 84 veterans who served during World War II, 55 who served during the Korean War, and 63 who served during the Vietnam era.
During the anniversary ceremony under a pavilion, Gov. Bevin also presented an honorary Kentucky Colonel certificate to Nora Fern Gullette, 93, who has volunteered 14,000 hours at the center.
“This is somebody who knows a thing or two about service,” Bevin said.
Earlier in the outdoor event, Bevin interrupted his remarks to catch a Kentucky flag that threatened to topple over in the wind.
“I’ve got nine kids; I’m used to multi-tasking,” Bevin quipped. “If that had been a falling baby, I would have caught it. It’s all good.”