Members of the Tennessee House of Representatives have approved a measure sponsored by State Rep. Mark Hall (R-Cleveland) and co-sponsored by State Rep. Dan Howell (R-Cleveland) honoring Bradley County veteran John Simmons for his contributions to Tennessee’s veterans and the nation.
House Bill 1652 passed unanimously in the House chamber Monday evening. The measure designates the entry driveway at the new Bradley County Tennessee State Veterans Home as the John Simmons Parkway in honor of Mr. Simmons.
A 100 percent service-connected veteran, Mr. Simmons proudly served the nation in the U.S. Navy and became a corpsman. He was called to duty during the Vietnam War and was also active in various organizations across southeast Tennessee including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
Mr. Simmons also served on the State Veterans Home Board, and his dream of a facility to better address the needs of local veterans in his home community will soon become a reality.
“Naming the entry driveway in honor of John Simmons is a small way we can thank him and his family for their selfless sacrifices and dedication to Tennessee’s veterans,” said Rep. Hall. “John led efforts to see this dream of a veterans home in our community become a reality, and we are eternally grateful to him for his tireless advocacy on behalf of this important project.”
Mr. Simmons was at the forefront of the process securing the land for the new Bradley County State Veterans home. Additionally, he obtained a $3 million anonymous donation to see the project continue to move forward.
“John Simmons was an incredible Tennessean and a great American patriot, and this distinction will ensure current and future generations understand the important legacy he has left behind,” said Rep. Howell. “I am pleased to co-sponsor this legislation because it is a small way we can thank Mr. Simmons for his lasting contributions to our community on behalf of all veterans.”
The official groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility was held on Aug. 21, 2019. Upon its completion, the Bradley County State Veterans Home is expected to serve upwards of 50,000 veterans who reside in the region.
House Bill 1652 now awaits action in the Senate Local & Government Committee. State Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) and State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) are guiding the measure through the Senate.
“John Simmons served his country with great courage and distinction not only in Vietnam, but in helping our local veterans,” said Senator Gardenhire. “This includes his service to secure this much-needed veterans home in Bradley County. I am very pleased that this legislation paying tribute to his many sacrifices has been adopted by the House of Representatives and look forward to presenting it for passage in the Senate.”
Both Senators Gardenhire and Bell have partnered with Reps. Hall, Howell, current Cleveland City Mayor Kevin Brooks and local leaders in recent years to ensure the Bradley County State Veterans Home project continues to advance so the tens of thousands of area veterans have a safety network of reliable services they can rely on to improve their overall quality of life.
“John Simmons is a true American hero who served his country with great honor and courage,” said Senator Bell. “It is very fitting that his legacy of service to both our nation and this community will greet visitors to this Veterans’ Home for many, many years to come. It is an honor to sponsor this legislation in the Senate.”
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