Veterans Drop In Center Marks 1st Anniversary

By: Jessica Geraci Email
By: Jessica Geraci Email

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- For some veterans, the toughest battle they face is finding work and a place to live once their military service is over. In fact, in the Stateline, 30% of those who are homeless are veterans.

There is hope for these vets; one local center in Rockford is dedicated to helping our heroes get back on their feet.
Thomas Murphy was one of the first veterans to walk in the door when the veterans drop in center in Rockford first opened in 2011. A year later, Murphy, an Army veteran from the 80s, is still looking for a place to call home, but thanks to the drop in center, he's going back to school.

"I’m going to enhance my career because I looked for a job for over a year and decided to go back to school and they offered me the money," says Murphy.

In addition to helping veterans find work, the drop in center offers a comfortable place where veterans can surf the web, watch TV and swap stories.

“At the VA, you go from one line to the next; here there’s individual attention and “How are you? How you doing?'” Murphy adds.

“I treat them like family, that’s what they are, there are my family," says Army veteran Larry Vanbuskirk. He stops in to the center nearly every night of the week.

Representatives from the veterans administration like the center too because there's always someone around who might need help.

"The veterans find this a comfortable place to socialize and it's really helped us,” says Paul Sutek, a social worker with the VA. “It's given us a focal point from the VA standpoint. It's a great place to come and meet veterans."

Between 15 and 20 vets stop in to the center every night. Many, like Murphy, say they have nowhere else to go and are grateful for the support the center provides.

The drop-in center is currently located at 413 N. Court Street. Right now, the center is only able to be open on weekdays from 4:30 to 8 in the evening but volunteers hope to be open on weekends once they can find a space of their own.

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