12/5/2018 12:00:00 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
St. Paul, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs today announced a $2.8 million donation from the estate of late Vietnam Veteran, Steven Williams, for construction of the Montevideo Veterans Home. This is the largest single private gift benefiting a State Veterans Home in Minnesota.
“This is an exciting announcement, and we are honored to accept this donation on behalf of the Veterans of Minnesota,” said MDVA Commissioner Larry Shellito. “Not only did Mr. Williams serve in the military during his life, he is continuing to serve after his passing through this generous gift. This donation will make a tremendous impact on Veterans for years to come.”
Although Williams retired in Nevada, he grew up near Montevideo and stayed involved in Veteran issues in his home state. Williams’ brother, Jim, who still lives in the area, contacted him in early 2018 to share the news that the Minnesota Legislature was considering funds for a State Veterans Home in Montevideo.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Jim. “When I called Steve to tell him, he said, ‘keep me posted, keep me posted. That’s a really good thing.’ Steve was very interested in this project.”
Unfortunately, Steven Williams passed away in March. A few months later the Minnesota Legislature approved $9.4 million towards construction of the Montevideo Veterans Home. The financial model for construction includes a portion of community fundraising. Williams’ donation brought the final community total to $7.4 million. If approved for construction through the Federal VA’s Construction Grant Priority List, the federal matching dollars could total $31.5 million. The application for the federal matching grant will be submitted in April, 2019. The planned 72-bed facility in Montevideo has a total project budget of $48.5 million. Currently in the pre-design phase, the Home would open in the summer of 2021.
“We want this to be the best Home in the country, said Jim. “And if [Steven] knew that for every dollar he donated, he would have gotten nearly two more, he would have been just ecstatic.”
Although Williams passed away before the community fundraising kicked off, his brother Jim worked as the estate trustee to best reflect his brother’s wishes. Williams had dedicated a portion of his estate to Veteran organizations, including the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the Wounded Warrior Project. All of these Veteran organizations agreed to pass on a percentage of their donation to the Montevideo project, which will total $2.8 million.
“The idea that these organizations were willing to work with us and not only fulfill Steve’s wishes, but to serve Veterans – even if it meant some donation funds would be redirected, is a testament to their selfless focus on serving Veterans” said Todd Bauman, Williams’ financial advisor.
Williams joined the Army in 1968, and left for Vietnam that same year. He served in the 3rd Ranger Company, and his military decorations included the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze star devices, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. Although he was honorably discharged after two years, his military service made a lasting impact on his life.
After returning from Vietnam, he enrolled in college, graduating from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minn. Shortly after, Williams accepted a sales job for Hormel Foods. Over his 30 years with the company he moved all over the country, eventually retiring in Nevada in 2004. He was married for a short time after his service in the military, but did not have any children.
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is a cabinet level state agency dedicated to serving Minnesota Veterans and their families. In addition to overseeing four skilled-care State Veterans Homes, MDVA helps eligible Veterans and families secure state and federal benefits and provides programs and services relating to higher education, benefits, burial, claims, outreach and Veterans employment. Veterans and their families are encouraged to visit www.MinnesotaVeteran.org or call 1-(888)-LinkVet for more information about benefits.