Wednesday, July 11, 2012

American Legion post in rural Connecticut town renovates its building to house homeless veterans

An American Legion post in a small Connecticut community has renovated its building to house 15 homeless veterans, reports the radio outlet of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network.

Post Cmdr. Mark Czmyr and his father,
Navy vet William Czmyr, had the idea.
(Photo by Lucy Nalpathanchil)
Jewett City, population about 3,000, is "a rural town that lost its major textile industry when the mills closed after World War II. It's a quiet community with a Main Street that's quintessential New England," Lucy Nalpathanchil reports for WNPR and National Public Radio.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is in the third year of an initiative to end homelessness, but the biggest challenge remains in rural communities where the VA has had a hard time connecting with veterans, Nalpathanchil reports. "For example, it could take a veteran in Jewett City more than an hour to get to one of Connecticut's two VA hospitals."

Laurie Harkness, director of the VA's Errera Center in Connecticut, "says Jewett City could be a model for other communities," Nalpathanchil reports. "She says ideas like this come up all the time, but this rural town has something not found in very many places." She told WNPR, "This is the first project that I've ever been involved in where there was no 'not in my backyard.' Everybody supported it."

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