A veteran of the health care industry will become the new leader of California’s largest housing center for retired service members.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced the appointment last week of Donald Veverka, of Port Orchard, Wash., as administrator of the Veterans Home of California in Yountville. A former U.S. Army medical corpsman during the Vietnam War, the 66-year-old Veverka has served as superintendent for the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil, Wash., since November 2011.
Veverka, a San Diego native, said in a telephone interview he met Diane Vanderpot, California’s undersecretary of veterans homes, to discuss the Veterans Home opening, then visited the Yountville complex in February to meet its staff.
“I’ve made a wonderful discovery — that there’s nothing more noble than to serve America’s greatest heroes,” he said of his time leading the Washington Veterans Home. “Working daily to improve the lives of those who gave us our lives, our freedom — in my opinion, there’s nothing more rewarding.”
Veverka’s health care career has spanned 37 years, and included leadership of several retirement homes and hospitals in the Pacific Northwest and California, as well as owning Care Centers West Inc. of Newberg, Ore., from 1982 to 1992.
The governor’s office said Veverka’s annual salary will be $140,040 for leading the Yountville facility, home to some 1,100 veterans and spouses and the largest of eight housing centers run by the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Veterans Home’s new leader will take over a 130-year-old facility long known for its 1920s-era Mission-style architecture and its scenic setting in the wine country.
However, the Veterans Home is also dealing with obsolete housing and the lack of a modern nursing center. A master plan drafted by CalVet estimates an overhaul to modernize the Veterans Home’s buildings and services would cost at least $150 million, with construction lasting 20 to 30 years.
“I won’t pretend to be the answer to all things,” said Veverka. “It will take all of us together to find a solution. Obviously, this will take some money but there’s many sources of funds available, privately and philanthropic as well as through the Legislature.
“My feeling is you can always improve on performance. There’s room for improvement on the financial side, to use resources as judiciously as we can.”
The appointment of Veverka fills the vacancy created in September by the sudden retirement of Marcella McCormack, the Yountville home’s administrator since 2000.
A month after her departure, a state audit attacked McCormack for allegedly allowing the home to squander more than $652,000 on a zip-line course that was not finished, and a café concession granted on a no-bid contract with just $1 in annual rent. The money for those projects came from the Yountville center’s $5 million recreational fund, which pays for such services for residents as hobby shops, libraries and film showings.