Fuming Governor and Veterans Service Officer sound off

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Updated: Thu, 10 Oct 2013 07:11:41 CST

It's a battle of the letters and a war of the words.  In a letter to Grand Island and Hall County officials Thursday, Governor Heineman said Veterans Service Officer Don Shuda asked the US Veterans Affairs Secretary to not approve funding for a new Nebraska Veterans Home.

"And to be so selfish that just because it didn't end up in your community.  Because you didn't submit the best bid, Grand Island came in third. That's just totally inappropriate. It's outrageous that he's not supporting a new veterans home," Governor Heineman told News 5. 

The Governor went on to ask the leaders to condemn Shuda's recent actions.  But Don Shuda said what the Governor is claiming, just isn't the case.

"It was taken out of context by the Governor and said that I just asked for the funding to not be approved," said Veterans Service Officer Don Shuda. 

Rather, Shuda says his letter that was sent to Washington in early September was a cover letter, accompanying thousands of signatures in support of keeping the Veterans Home in Grand Island.

He said the letter actually asks that they "do not approve the funding for a new Nebraska Veterans Home until further study is completed."

Shuda says he has absolutely always been in support of federal funding.  He just wanted the government to look into the decision process further especially after hearing an alternate proposal was in the works.

"Realizing that was taking place, I was just hoping that Washington would not make any decisions until that got to them," added Shuda. 

Whether its Don Shuda, who wants the home to remain here in Grand Island, or the Governor, who is in support of the move to Kearney, there is one thing both sides can agree on.

"At the end of the day, all of us ought to put veterans first," said the Governor. 
"Absolutely is the veterans," agreed Shuda. 

After the exchange in letters, how should both sides move forward in making sure those veterans are put first?

"I've listened to everything they've had to say. They can make their case in front of the legislature if they want," said Governor Heineman.

"Well hopefully this alternative proposal will be seriously looked at and considered," said Shuda.