Many of us welcome any opportunity to thank our military veterans. In Worcester, through Veterans Inc., we also have an opportunity to serve them.
That opportunity will ramp up this fall. The agency expects to begin a capital campaign to renovate its Grove Street headquarters.
This is a worthy endeavor.
Veterans Inc. has proved its mettle for more than 25 years, bringing former servicemen and women back from the brink of homelessness, joblessness, addiction and loneliness.
“This place is magic,” U.S. Navy veteran James Whitley said in a recent video posted on the agency’s website. He is among many thousands of veterans from the Worcester area and throughout New England who have found camaraderie, caring, and life-changing assistance via Veterans Inc.
Indeed, a sense of the extraordinary pervades the interior of the plain-looking facility at 69 Grove St. Not only have residents and other military veterans felt new inspiration within its walls, but so have visitors, volunteers and leaders.
There is an understanding that wrongs are made right here, beginning with the nine homeless Vietnam War veterans who moved in in January 1992.
Back then, when the facility was called the Central Massachusetts Shelter for Homeless Veterans, numerous volunteers, $17,000 in contributions and valuable free manpower made renovation of the building possible. Before standing idle and in serious disrepair for a dozen years, the long brick building had been an armory for the Massachusetts National Guard.
In its quarter-century, Veterans Inc. has grown extraordinarily. The organization describes itself as New England’s leading provider of support services for veterans and their families. Far beyond providing transitional, mostly bunk-style housing — which it still does — it offers food pantries, employment training, physical and mental health screenings and care, comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment, and other services for both male and female veterans and their family members.
Sadly, and shockingly, too many of our nation’s servicemen and women leave active duty with serious, unmet needs. Here in Worcester, we can proudly say that Veterans Inc. is doing something about that.
The escalating tensions with North Korea right now remind us just how much we rely on the bravery, dedication and expertise of our military. Around the clock, and through all kinds of peril, year after year, American troops protect our country and stand up in force for our treasured freedoms.
We must not forget that the demands and stresses of military life take a toll.
The nonprofit Veterans Inc. accepts donations through its website, and runs fundraisers such as the annual Run4Veterans 5K Road Race/Walk this Nov. 4.
The agency’s upcoming capital campaign aims to raise between $5.5 million and $6 million to renovate its 91-bed headquarters. Veterans Inc. President and CEO Vincent Perrone, Lt. Col. USAF (Retired), told the Worcester Business Journal the plan would retrofit underutilized space on the Salisbury Street side of 69 Grove St. for offices, which would provide more space for housing in the rear of the building.
According to the WBJ article, Veterans Inc. plans to form a capital campaign committee next month, and is looking for people to serve on it.
So look sharp, Worcester. This campaign will be an opportunity to salute an organization that has quietly and professionally earned the area’s trust, and to support a side of the military experience we don’t always think about, but must never forget.