Washington City Mission breaks ground for veterans shelter

Natalie Reid Miller
Observer Reporter

For years, City Mission officials prioritized a need to assist homeless veterans. A campaign to build a shelter exclusively for those who served was gaining momentum when a fire in the main building last summer derailed plans.

Thanks to community support, the men’s shelter was restored in less than a year, allowing progress toward the Veterans Residential Facility.

“This has been a dream of ours for a number of years as we began to see the number of veterans coming through our doors,” said City Mission CEO and President Dean Gartland during a ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday. “They served us, and we believed it was time to serve them better than we have in the past.”

As many as 14 veterans can be housed in a dorm in the men’s shelter, but the new facility will feature two floors of living space with room for 22 beds, and a first-level medical clinic.

“The facility will be dedicated strictly to veterans, because it’s a unique situation,” said the mission’s Beatriz Harrison. “Their recovery is different. Veterans do much better in an environment when they have that camaraderie they did as troops.”

Veterans have a greater risk of homelessness than other adults, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which also found that there are about 500,000 homeless veterans across the country.

Veteran and Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi said the veterans shelter will provide an invaluable service.

“We’re breaking barriers here. We’re trailblazing,” Maggi said. “There are a lot of successful veterans, but there are a lot of veterans who need help, who have fallen through the cracks.”

So far, $1 million has been raised for the veterans shelter. The project will cease in January once the roof is on the 12,000-square-foot facility and proceed when the remaining $2 million required for completion is acquired.

“We still have a ways to go,” said Dave Tenison, mission board chairman. “We are dedicated to getting this done.”

For information, visit www.citymission.org.