Korean War veteran celebrates grand opening of Preston Veterans Home on his birthday

Veterans Home Move-in Day

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(ABC 6 News) – The Veterans Home is now open in Preston and it was quite the journey to get to this point.

Up until now, the closest long-term care facility for veterans has been in the Twin Cities.

The day means so much for veterans and their families, especially Walter Hansen. He’s moving into his new home 91-years-young. 

“I just want to have a happy life. If your life ends, there’s always a beginning,” Walter said.

Walter is discovering that new beginning surrounded by his loved ones.

“One thing we know about each other is that we love each other. I think that grew as we spent time around each other,” Dan Hansen, Walter’s son said.

“We had 20 rows of raspberries that we would pick every July, so we couldn’t go to the fair until we picked our raspberries,” Shari Thacher, Walter’s daughter said.

“My wife called me every day at 3:15. If I was late, I’d let her know,” Walter said.

“We had a few arguments. It’s whatever! He’s a people person, this will be a good life for him,” Mary Lou Hansen, Walter’s wife said.

If the fresh new walls could talk, you’d hear stories of courage and unconditional love. 

Walter is a Korean War Veteran. He knows the importance of community. 

“It doesn’t take one person, it takes many,” Walter said.

It took a village to make this dream a reality. 

“It’s clear that this community values veterans and I think that standing here you can feel that from this community,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said.

The state and community raised millions of dollars to make this happen. 

“I think what you’ll find here is just a great group of people who care every day when they walk through the front door,” Gabby Kinneberg, public relations and volunteer coordinator for the Preston Veterans Home said.

The building features many modern amenities. There’s kitchens, individual rooms, private bathrooms, a spa, and much more. 

For our birthday boy, he’s grateful he has a place to call home. 

“This will be a shot in the arm for Preston.  You can’t imagine how many people this touches,” Walter said.

Over the next few weeks, 20 veterans will be moving in. The center can house 54 veterans in total.