As U.S. veterans return from duty overseas, the transition back to civilian life can often be a difficult one, but there’s a new resource in Waco to help vets find the services they need.
The Veterans One Stop Center opened this week in Waco. Organized by volunteers with the Veterans Coalition for the Heart of Texas Region, the goal is to gather all the services a veteran may need in one location.
John Lowery served his country for twenty years.
"I went overseas three times and even had a tour in Korea," he said.
A service-related illness has since left him disabled. He said trying to access veterans benefits is frustrating.
"When you put a claim in, you have to wait and that's what the problem is," Lowery said.
But in the Veterans Coalition for the Heart of Texas region, Lowery found a new place to get help.
"They will initially get put together with a veteran peer counselor, a peer mentor whose been trained to help them navigate some of these various social services,” Maggie McCarthy with the new veteran’s center said.
The Veterans One Stop Center offers area veterans counseling, legal aid, help with job training, education and housing as well as other services. Eventually about a dozen agencies will have a presence at the facility.
"We are making these offices available,” McCarthy said. “We have about 10 offices available to use."
But more importantly, the center is giving vets a place to be together.
"It is really important that the veterans have an opportunity to visit with each other because that's where they're going to find real help,” McCarthy said. “Some of them, they only want to talk to veterans."
It's open to men and women of every military branch—no matter when they served.
"And not just the service member—the family as well because the family also served," Ray Nuniz with the Heart of Texas Region MHMR said.
Because when vets get the help they need, the entire community benefits.
"I'm going to try and come back and try to volunteer here and there and stuff,” Lowery said. “You know, to try to mingle and get out of the house."
The Veterans One-Stop Center is open Monday through Friday.
The Veterans Coalition for the Heart of Texas still needs volunteers and contributions.
For more information about the resources available, send an email to VetzConnect@gmail.com.