Marlin: VA Hospital to become veteran housing and transition facility

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MARLIN, Texas (KWTX) The state of Texas has sold the Marlin VA hospital to a group of investors who plan to transform it into a veteran transition facility.

Former Marlin Mayor Elizabeth Nelson confirmed that the sale of the hospital to Sterling-Marlin VA, LLC of Houston was finalized Friday evening.

The program to renovate the facility into the National Campus for Veterans Transition is being called Operation Re-launch. Plans for the new facility include providing meals, housing, counselling services, and career resources for veterans from across the nation.

Nelson said, “We will house them, we will feed them, and we will help them with education and social life, and become well-rounded with the arts.”

She said they are partnering with TSTC and Mclennan Community College to provide education, training, and assistance with job placement to veterans to help them with the transition into civilian life.

“It’s a very difficult time for some of them. Many of them were young when they went into the military and that’s what they’ve known for their semi-adult life,” the former mayor said.

Nelson said she and Senator Brian Birdwell along with Representative Kyle Kacal have worked to find a suitable buyer for the 8-acre property who could maintain its historical significance.

The VA hospital, formerly the Tom Connally Veterans Facility, opened in 1950 after World War II, but completely shut down in 2005. Former Texas Senator Kip Averitt intended for the state to turn the facility into a hospital to provide medical care for prison inmates with critical health conditions, but they lost funding during the 2008 recession, and the hospital has been vacant since.

“It takes a beautiful structure that’s been sitting vacant for a long time, and new people will be coming into the city,” Nelson said.

She said the development will not only bring local jobs, but it will bring veterans and their families from around the country to Marlin which could be help grow the city’s economy.

Nelson said, "Marlin will be recognized nationwide. It will enhance the lives of veterans but also enhance the economy in marlin."

“Veterans from all over the country will be eligible to come here,” Nelson added.

Sterling Real Estate Development Trust had accepted the appraisal in March and agreed to pay $15 million.

Renovations for the new transition center should start within two weeks. Nelson is spearheading the operation, and expects veterans to be able to move in by August, and the facility to be in full operation later this year.

“We’re going to be focusing on how to help the ones who are not physically disabled but mentally disabled, but are able to function and may need to find a new direction in life," she said.