Veterans' community welcomes visitors

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COLUMBIA - A Veterans' community under construction welcomed visitors Tuesday. The event brought together city government officials, federal government officials, members of the private sector and the VA.

The goal of Welcome Home, Inc. is to help put an end to Veteran homelessness in mid-Missouri. The veterans' community project is unique because it features veterans helping veterans.

"One thing we've seen that has been a huge catalyst for our success of our program is the fact that it's mostly ran by veterans, it's only for veterans," said Ross Bridges, President of the Board of Directors at Welcome Home, Inc. "So they can lean on each other and talk about things that they can't talk about with civilians."

Tuesday's event was hosted by Welcome Home, Inc, which partners with the VA and Columbia Housing Authority.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo) was among the dignitaries on hand.

"I think we need to do a much better job as people separate from the military, really documenting how well they're ready to separate and what kind of contact we need to keep so that Veterans don't become homeless Veterans," he said.

The Veterans' community project is currently 63 percent funded and is still pushing its capital campaign. Bridges said it's important to recognize veterans' service and help them with the transition coming back home.

"Before these men and women were homeless they were Veterans first. They have already made a large and meaningful contribution to their nation and their society," he said. "I think it's important for our nation to return the favor."