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Project creates housing veterans need

Veterans AffairsDefenseDouglas MacArthur

A number of misconceptions have been circulated regarding the community being created at the Fort Howard Veterans Affairs campus in eastern Baltimore County. I would like to set the record straight.

I am honored that the Department of Veterans Affairs chose my team's concept to revitalize Fort Howard in a way that will respectfully house and treat veterans. The vision for the community is for it to become a national model for serving the needs of America's growing veteran population, allowing those who served our country to age gracefully in place while enjoying high-quality services and amenities.

There is a need nationwide for increased veteran care and housing. I hope to provide a solution for this overwhelming problem in our nation. Baltimore County has one of the largest veteran populations in the country, and the need is significant. What better place to offer innovative solutions?

The Fort Howard and North Point communities are rich in history, culture and patriotism. These values serve as the inspiration behind the community my team envisions — one that allows our veterans to receive top-quality services no matter age or financial situation. Both my business partner and I come from military families. My father was a veteran, and I wish he had had amenities and services like the ones planned for Fort Howard.

After attending several meetings with local organizations and veterans groups, I wanted to clarify some points about the community we are creating:

•Fort Howard will remain a community serving veterans. We have received tremendous support from veterans groups and are building this community to serve their needs. Veterans of all ages, financial situations and abilities will always be first on the list to receive housing and services.

•The community will offer housing at various price points for a diverse veteran population, as well as housing for single veteran parents and specialized medical services for those just returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

•We will rehabilitate numerous historic structures on site, including the hospital center and many of the other existing buildings that once housed Maj. Gen. Douglas MacArthur and nursed many of our soldiers back to health. It is of the utmost importance to us to keep this land, with such historic significance, intact.

•Since our goal is first and foremost to continue to honor and serve our veterans, one of the first projects we will complete is constructing a new, 10,000-square-foot VA outpatient clinic for veterans to replace the current facility. The current outpatient facility will remain open and active until this state-of-the-art clinic is completed.

•The community will also offer active adult living, assisted living, skilled nursing, clinical rehabilitation centers, a military museum, and service-oriented retail — all with an eye toward our veterans.

•This will be a self-contained community, which will limit the traffic coming in and out of Fort Howard.

•The larger community will have access to certain amenities such as the open greens, pier, walkway around the water, and some health care.

•We will be creating thousands of permanent and temporary jobs for Baltimore County.

Fort Howard was the location of the largest foreign invasion of the U.S. in this country's history. In the late 1890s, when the United States government acquired Fort Howard, it became the headquarters for the coastal defense of Baltimore. This is land that needs to be restored to its original splendor. Currently, the land at Fort Howard is deteriorating.

From the beginning of this project, it has been our mission — in keeping with our military backgrounds, and with an eye to the severe needs of America's veterans — to revitalize and enhance this land for the men and women who serve our country.

Tim Munshell is a partner in Fort Howard Development Group LLC. His email is munshell@munshell.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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