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U.S. Naval Home (USNH) Gulfport, Mississippi

U.S. Naval Home History

The concept of a retirement home for naval personnel is almost as old as our nation. The Naval Home was established Feb. 26, 1811, by Paul Hamilton of South Carolina, secretary of the Navy under President James Madison. The charter was "to provide a permanent asylum for decrepit and disabled naval officers, seamen, and Marines."

The Naval Home was officially opened in 1834 and was known as the Naval Asylum until the name was changed to the Naval Home in 1880. Naval personnel who were "so injured or infirmed as to be unable to contribute materially to their own support" were allowed to live at the home and asked to labor as much as they were able toward the care of it.

The Naval Home was initially funded by contributions from the active force. As early as 1799, contributions of 20 cents per month were taken from every active duty member for the relief of seamen in the service. This contribution was augmented by all fines imposed upon persons of the Navy and was the principal source of monies for the Naval Hospital Fund/Pension Fund. The Pension Fund also received all money accruing from the sale of prizes of war.

For nearly 100 years, the Naval Home was funded by these monies. In 1934, the Pension Fund was abolished by Congress and the proceeds were deposited into the U.S. Treasury. From 1935 until 1991, the Naval Home was funded by Navy appropriations. Today, it is funded by monthly withholding from the active duty, fines and forfeitures, interest off the Trust Fund and resident fees.

"The Plantation," a 23-acre site located in Philadelphia, was purchased for $16,352 with money from the Hospital Fund. The land was originally owned by the William Penn family. The corner stone of the main structure was laid in 1827 and later named Biddle Hall.

In the late '60s, it was determined that the Philadelphia facility could not be economically modernized and expanded, and that the most cost-effective program would be new construction at a new site. The site selected was 36 acres fronting the Gulf of Mexico in Gulfport, Miss.

U.S. Naval Home Today

As visitors arrive at the Naval Home, they are greeted by a security guard at the impressive main gate, which is always guarded. A boulevard leads to the modern 11-story residency building, or visitors can get to the beautiful beach by a pedestrian walk ramp crossing Highway 90. There are accommodations for 550 private resident rooms. Each room has a half bath and basic furniture for the comfort of the resident. Showers and laundry facilities are provided in each of the two residential wings on each floor.

The first floor of the residency building is the hub of home activities, including a fine, full-service dining facility, which provides three meals a day; an accredited health care facility, which provides quality health and dental care; and a wellness center for activities on fitness and health needs. Also, on the first floor, is the Fiddlers Green ballroom and recreational activity center; full post office lock box service; bowling center, 24-hour library, and Navy Exchange convenience store. Other services available are: Hancock Bank USNH branch; barber and beauty shop service; and the Lord's Cabin -- a small chapel prayer room adjoining the main lobby.

Service men and women bring a wealth of lifetime experiences that enrich retirement home family life. Stimulating programs and activities are regularly planned, including: The Resident Assistant Volunteers; The Resident Elementary and Middle School Mentors; and a variety of other community programs. Other activities are just plain fun, frequent dances and special celebrations and catered social events. A full-service bar and lounge are available, complete with large-screen TVs for viewing pleasures.

The home has a fleet of vans and buses that provide scheduled transportation to special events, shopping trips and other recreational outings. Local bus transporation is available at the main entrance on a regular basis to all the coast city centers.

The Naval Home has on-campus medical facilities including a pharmacy, clinical services and a dental clinic. Additionally, there are 60 long-term care beds, and plans were approved to build a new medical center that will expand the capacity of long-term care.

Visitors are welcome to the home, both active duty and prospective residents and families. For more information call the U.S. Naval Home at 1-800-332-3527, visit there Web Site at http://www.afrh.com/, or write:
U.S. Naval Home, Resident Affairs Service 1800 Beach Drive Gulfport, MS 39507-1597

Courtesy of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH)