Vietnam Army veteran Thomas Wyatt, 59, lost two different civilian jobs through down-sizings in the recession and became homeless about 18 months ago.
He lived with relatives for a while, and since November has had a bed and a locker at a Salvation Army shelter in Kansas City, Kan.
But that was before he was chosen as one of 58 homeless veterans to live in the new St. Michael's Veterans Center, which had its grand opening Monday at 3838 Chelsea Drive.
“I'm so looking forward to it,” Wyatt said of moving into his own apartment at the center. “They are gorgeous.”
Wyatt said having his own place will finally give him “peace of mind” and allow him to focus on landing a new job.
Giving homeless veterans that sense of peace, stability and direction was exactly the goal behind St. Michael's, which is located just south of the VA Medical Center.
Designed by Rosemann & Associates, the facility was built and will be managed by Yarco Co. It will provide a host of medical, social and job training services to veterans through a partnership with Catholic Charities.
Bagpipes serenaded the large crowd that turned out for Monday's ceremony, which also featured prayers, speeches and tours of the building.
“This is a true symbol of hope and progress in our community,” Mayor Sly James said.
The veterans begin moving into the new building in early July. Construction is expected to begin this fall on a second apartment building. The facility is ultimately envisioned as a three-phase project with apartments for 180 veterans.
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