Against the background of an administrative scandal at veterans’ hospitals and a loud debate over the rescue of a POW, one piece of exceptionally good news for former soldiers could easily be overlooked.
But it’s well worth noting: By the end of the month 58 homeless veterans will be moving into a new apartment building in Kansas City and beginning journeys to turn their lives around.
The creation of the St. Michael’s Veterans Center is the result of a shared compassionate vision. Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, developer Yarco Co., U.S. Bank, the architecture firm of Rosemann & Associates, longtime veterans’ advocate and attorney Art Fillmore, plus the federal government and the city collaborated on making what is believed to be a new concept for the region.
If all goes according to plan, the center will eventually include three buildings housing 180 veterans on a 24-acre patch of the city that has long been a weedy eyesore. The site, at 3838 Chelsea Drive, is a few blocks south of the VA Medical Center.
Across the nation as many as 58,000 veterans may be living on the streets on any given day, according to one federal estimate. In the Kansas City area, estimates of homeless veterans range from 200 to 1,800.
No matter the number, it’s one of the regrettable characteristics of American society that our safety nets are too small and too stretched for resources to treat with respect and dignity each and every man and woman who has served the country.
The St. Michael’s Center is a welcome and long-overdue effort to repair one of those nets. The helping hand undoubtedly will restore some hope and upward momentum into the fragile lives of some of those who have served.