Missouri, the 15th most veteran-populated state, houses seven veteran retirement homes – second only to California and Texas, which each host eight veteran retirement homes. Even with these seven homes, however, approximately 1,800 Missouri veterans are still awaiting housing.
That all can change this week, however, as Missouri voters will determine whether the state's veteran population can benefit from lottery proceeds.
Currently, proceeds from the Missouri Lottery are allocated strictly to education funding. If voters approve the changes on the ballot, though, a new lottery game will go on sale – a scratch-off ticket devoted solely to the Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Trust Fund.
Legislation sponsors cite the amendment's utility, praising its potential to expand veteran retirement homes as well as its purported maintenance improvement at veteran cemeteries.
Kansas City Republican Rep., Sheila Solon, further lauds the proposed changes for their potential to impact service members beyond the retirement age group. "Especially for those younger veterans coming home today with a brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, we want to make sure they get in touch with what's available to them," Solon stated.
Solon further explained that, since 2012, a portion of the state's casino fees have been allotted to veteran funding. What with the casino business rapidly declining, however, Solon argued that the proposed change "is the least [the state] can do for the veterans who have done so much..."
Yet there are others who remain less convinced of the lottery plan's efficiency. According to Kansas City Democrat Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, for example, boasting hope in the lottery is unpredictable at best. Voting against the lottery proposal earlier this year, LaFaver complained that "for every $1 lottery ticket, veterans will only get less than one-fourth of that money."
If voters approve the proposal this week, Missouri will become the fifth state to adopt this type of pro-veteran lottery plan, after Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Texas. Washington attempted as much in 2010 but ended the program after the ticket sales failed to reach the state's goal.