Monday, May 30, 2011
North County Veterans Association is building a new center as a one stop shop for veterans activities.
A new Veterans’ Center in North County attracted several hundred vets from different groups to commemorate Memorial Day this year. One goal is to build a strong community to support the new, young vets returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The building in Oceanside is still a hollow shell. It's being gradually transformed from an old police headquarters into a place where vets of all generations can meet for mutual support.
On Memorial Day the parking lot was full of motorbikes as well as cars.
David Nolan is an American Legion Rider. It’s a group of Vietnam vets who ride motorcycles. He plans to get involved with Camp Pendleton.
“Because we have a lot of Marines and sailors, even Army, who are coming back, who are in the Wounded Warrior Battalion,“ he said. “So it will give us an opportunity to do something to help them in their transition from active duty to the status a lot of us have as disabled veterans.”
Sandra Fichter is Vice President of the new North County Veterans' Association, made up of almost three dozen groups. She said the city of Oceanside has leased them the building for free for 40 years. The group has raised about $275,000 to gut the building, but they need another million dollars to make it usable.
Fichter said the new building will give older groups like the Old Bold Pilots somewhere other than Denny’s to meet. But she also wants to build a one stop shop support base for newer vets.
“Right now we’re not seeing them joining very much,” she said. “We are doing outreach. Little by little we’re seeing them, so little by little we have to reinvent ourselves.”
Fichter said more than 80,000 veterans live in North County, and that number will grow with more young vets, some of them disabled, coming home.