Robert Wilkie, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) were the headline speakers at the official Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting ceremony at the newly completed Veterans Life Center Building today in Butner, NC.
The Veterans Life Center, a 40,000 square foot building, is a residential facility designed to house at-risk 21st Century veterans who are experiencing difficulties reintegrating into civilian life after their service in Iraq, Afghanistan and other military deployment sites.
Residents will begin entering the center in the coming weeks. At full capacity it will serve 100 male and female veterans.
Secretary Wilkie praised VLC Founder John Turner. “This is his vision, a vision that was born in very trying times in Baghdad. He came home and saw that veterans needed help. What you see behind me is the fulfillment of that dream.”
Senator Tillis noted that some 150 North Carolina veterans commit suicide every year. “This center,” he said, “will save many of those lives in the future.
“This is a first of a kind,” Tillis added. “But I hope it replicates itself throughout the country.”
“We can’t do too much for those heroes who voluntarily stood in harm’s way to defend us – and now need our help,” said Col. David Hayden, VLC Board Chair and Master of Ceremonies for today’s event.
The ceremony was conducted in accord with Covid 19 rules, and streamed via the Veterans Life Center website www.vlcnc.org. NC Department of Commerce secretary Tony Copeland, who represented Governor Roy Cooper at the ceremony, referred to the Covid pandemic in his remarks, saying of the VLC, “Even in times of adversity, good things happen, and this is one of them.”
In addition to clean, safe rooms and nutritious meals, the VLC program includes coordination of services such as mental and physical health care, life skills training, spiritual and family counseling and vocational education. Each veteran’s program will be individually planned by professional case managers with input from the veterans themselves.