Veterans pleased with new Armed Forces Retirement Home - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Veterans pleased with new Armed Forces Retirement Home

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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Nearly 500 veterans are now living at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport. The new complex opened just over a year ago, replacing the old facility that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Residents there are loving life and thoroughly enjoying their new living quarters and all the amenities. It has all the comforts of an attractive retirement community,  including a bowling alley, fitness center, swimming pool and library. The first floor alone covers nearly five acres.

"Makes you think of being new aboard an aircraft carrier. You find all the places that are important to you that you know you need to have service from," said Charles L. Jenkins.

The 27 year Navy veteran enjoys his view of the gulf from his 8th floor residence.  Plus, these new apartments are much bigger.

"When we came back, we had 450 square feet, where we had 80 square feet before. So, much more comfortable than it was," he said.

"It's so different. The attitudes. Everybody is just jolly here. 'Hey, how you doing' and it goes on. And the whole spirit is different, because of the facility," said Bill Parker.

Parker is the honorary "mayor" of the retirement home.  He says everyone loves the new facilities, but there's one misconception he'd like to clear up.

"There are people that think this is a big sink hole that eats up taxpayer money. And this place is not run with taxpayer money at all," he explained.

It's funded by men and women in uniform who contribute a small amount from each paycheck.

"I still walk about three or four miles a day," said Rupert Maxwell.

The walking helps keep the 90-year-old in good shape. He's a former fighter pilot and World War II POW who's happy to be here.

"I like it. It's nice for people like me who are up in age and need a place to be taken care of.  'Course I'm still able to care for myself. I was working on the farm every day driving tractors and doing farm work when I came here," said Maxwell.

Many of the residents there are from that "greatest generation" and you can be sure they truly appreciate this place.

"We're blessed that we were the first ones in here. But that comes with a responsibility. We must maintain it and make it better for the people coming behind us," said Parker.

The Armed Forces Retirement Home is so popular, there's a year and a half waiting list for new residents to get in.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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