GREENWOOD LAKE – Veterans are brave on the battlefield, but civilian life for them can be fraught with hardship such as homelessness, unemployment, and mental health issues.
The Rumshock Veterans Foundation is trying to help alleviate the pain vets face at home, and the organization has secured $400,000 through the office of Senator Jen Metzger to buy land, which will be used for housing and other services.
It will be called Victory Village, and the first phase will be 12 small homes with a community building, where vegetables will be grown indoors along with a recycling center for phones and computers. A transportation system will also be created to help those vets without cars.
And more houses could follow, depending on the location and building codes.
“We’re going to go with as many as the town and the building codes will let us,” said Bill Whetsel, president of the Rumshock Veterans Foundation.
Whetsel said land will be sought near Middletown or New Hampton, in the center of Orange County, and that the $3 million price tag for the first phase can be slashed by $2 million with the volunteer trade labor expected to help with the project.
“We are going to keep it in Orange County,” said Whetsel.
Veteran homelessness has plagued the region for many years, and it is also a problem in Sullivan and Ulster counties. “It has been a major problem for a long time in Orange County and the region in general,” said Metzger.
“We’ve been hearing stories about it forever.” And some of those stories Metzger said she has heard include veterans living in tents in the woods. Nationally, veteran suicide has also become a problem. “This cannot happen.”
The senator said those vets have served our country. They have sacrificed so much, and they face all these hardships we should be helping them address,” said Metzger.
And the concept of Victory Village should help address homelessness, unemployment, and the mental health issues facing veterans.
“All of these issues are linked often, and Victory Village addresses it all,” said Metzger. “I think it’s the kind of project that will be replicated in many other places.”