During the May Mesa Chamber of Commerce’s “Mesa Morning Live” show, Sally Harrison, president/CEO of the chamber, and Mark Young, president/CEO of Mesa United Way, announced the creation of the Mesa Veterans Resource Center. The center will be for veterans needing a local consolidated source for information and services.
“We realized we weren’t doing what we should in Mesa for our veterans so we talked to local businesses and the Mesa Veterans Resource Center was the result,” Harrison said. “It’s just two blocks off the light rail and in partnership with Mesa Community College, who gave us the space. We will open it in June.”
There are approximately 50,000 veterans in the East Valley, Young said.
“We’ve been wanting to bring vets in and give them soft skills training and find jobs for them,” said Young. “There are a lot of opportunities here for people who want to be involved. We will make it easier for vets to come to one place and get all the services.”
Young said his son-in-law, a veteran, found his biggest challenge was “finding a place where he fit in. Finding a place where he’s respected and cared about what he did.”
Harrison said the center, at 145 N. Centennial Way in downtown Mesa, is seeking mentors, volunteers and funding.
Some of that funding was presented in the form of a $2,500 donation May 12 by Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, which works with the American Warrior Initiative.
“Every dollar we raise goes directly to a veteran in need in our local community through this program,” said Mike Certo, with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. “In four years, we’ve raised over $20,000 for our veterans.”
Young said donations like the one from Fairway will “help local veterans get help with whatever disability they have and help us just keep expanding our services.”
The show’s featured guest, Mesa Veterans Court Judge Richard Romley, a decorated veteran and former Maricopa County attorney, was impressed with the idea of the Mesa Veterans Resource Center.
“I served in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam during 1968-69, and was wounded, and I understand the struggles when you come back. Back then the country was divided and many didn’t respect the veterans coming back home and we have learned from that,” Romley said. “Veterans deserve our respect.”
He explained that the Mesa Veterans Court, which has been in existence for over two years, is for “when a veteran commits an offense we bring them into a special court to allow them to talk individually to someone to try to identify what led them into court and decide where they go from there. We give them the resources needed to change that behavior.”
Romely said there are 20 suicides committed a day by veterans and that services like the new Mesa Veterans Resource Center “shows that we’ve grown as a nation in wanting to help our veterans. It takes a full community to come together. If we can turn people around then we have hope and the resource center in Mesa is exciting,” Romely continued. “This resource center is going to be a real leader and shows that Mesa cares for its veterans. It takes a community to address this issue.”
– Kelly Mixer is managing editor of MyNewsMesa.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.