A first-of-its kind housing facility in the United States for at-risk veterans, Veterans Life Center (VLC), celebrated its opening on August 1, 2020 in Butner, North Carolina and drew distinguished guest speakers U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis and NC Department of Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland, who represented Governor Roy Cooper at the ceremony. Kicking off the ceremony was VLC Board Chair, U.S. Army Col. (ret.) and Smith Anderson attorney David Hayden, who served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event.
The 100-bed Veterans Life Center is designed to help at-risk veterans who are experiencing difficulties reintegrating into civilian life after their service in military deployment sites by providing temporary housing and services with the goal of achieving self-reliance in two years or less. Serving as Board Chairman during a pivotal time in the pursuit of this vision, David’s leadership and guidance was deemed essential throughout the construction and simultaneous capital campaign that resulted in the successful opening of the Center. Residents will begin entering the center on September 1, 2020, and at full capacity, the center will serve 100 male and female veterans.
"We can’t ever do too much for those heroes who voluntarily stood in harm’s way to defend our nation – and now need our help,” said David. “The center offers at-risk transitioning Veterans coordination of therapeutic, counseling and educational services tailored to individual needs, to enable them to find a constructive, personally satisfying place in civil society."
Secretary Wilkie praised VLC Founder John Turner stating, "This is his vision, a vision that was born in very trying times in Baghdad. He came home and saw that veterans needed help."
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."
NC Department of Commerce secretary Tony Copeland referred to the COVID-19 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.
A recording of the live streaming capturing the full ceremony can be viewed on the Veterans Life Center website www.vlcnc.org.
A limited number of people were invited to the event due to the pandemic. Please find below various news coverage of the event:
- ABC 11 WTVD
- S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Senator Thom Tillis and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie Fireside Chat
- Oxford Ledger (front pg cover story, print edition, August 6, 2020)
- The Butner-Creedmoor News