Lejeune considers plan to improve retirees' lives

20 Jul 2003 | Cpl. Kristin S. Gambrell

"My pledge is that to the best of our abilities, we will advocate our veterans' causes as we do those of our active forces, for 'once a Marine, always a Marine,'" said Gen. James L. Jones in his guidance to Marines as the 32nd commandant of the Marine Corps.  "We are determined -- without compromise -- to preserve the status and advance the interests of those who made us who we are."

Officials here are looking to do just that by building a retirement community near the waterfront between the Paradise Point Golf Course and the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital.

"We feel like this is something we should be providing to our retirees," said H. Wayne West, assistant chief of staff, business development, Marine Corps Community Services.  "We need to give them the opportunity to have this type of facility."

If the new project is approved, West said the base would be the first Department of Defense installation to have a financially self-sustained retirement community on it.

The concept, still in its early stages, needs approval from the Navy, Marine Corps, Department of Defense and Congress.  It will take about three years to build and prepare the facility for residents if approved.

Once authorized, a private company will build and operate the retirement community -- no taxpayer money will be involved. Any retired uniformed service member or spouse will be able to benefit from the services offered.

West said the facility would include independent- and assisted-living areas, as well as nursing facilities. 

The intent is to develop a community in which any retired service member or their spouse can receive progressive care without having to leave the area, said West.  Ideally, people will be able to move from building to building as their age and health demands increase.

"The pricing will be very comparable to the area," said West.  "Our goal is to keep our prices on the low end of the scale."

The Jacksonville, N.C., native, said the retirees in the community love the idea of the safety and security of being on base.

"The willingness with which our young are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation." -- George Washington.