Proposal would establish veterans centers in N.C.
News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Two Guilford County properties that have languished on the open market for years could soon be helping veterans and the homeless.
A proposal by Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis would lease the two properties — at 206 Greensboro Road and 940 Beaumont Ave. in High Point — for low or no cost to nonprofit organizations that help military veterans adjust to civilian life, learn job skills and find homes. Commissioners last week voted to take the two properties off the market.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates more than 121,000 veterans live in the Piedmont Triad, according to a 2011 report.
Davis, who spent 20 years in the Marine Corps, keeps a miniature Marine flag before him on the dais at commissioners meetings. The community should be doing more for veterans old and young — particularly when so many of them are struggling, he said.
“For me it’s personal,” Davis said. “I spent a lot of my career as a recruiter. I brought so many people into the military. And I was lucky — when I came out, I had a family. I had support. I was able to get education, new skills. I was able to start a business. A lot of people in the military are not that lucky.”
Davis said many military veterans — especially lower-level enlistees — have trouble turning the skills they learn in the military into civilian careers.
His vision for the two High Point properties is as a center for nonprofits to provide housing, networking and job training for those veterans.
The county-owned sites that would be leased for the effort would be ideal, Davis said. The Greensboro Road site was a former Evergreen nursing home building. The one on Beaumont Avenue was last used by LifeSpan Ventures, a group serving people with developmental disabilities. Both structurally lend themselves to housing veterans and providing classes and training.
Nonprofit organizations looking to provide that housing and training often struggle to find an ideal venue, Davis said.
He said there are some groups “doing some good work” to help veterans.
“But they’re mostly working on their own,” he said. “So I would see this as a way of getting them all together, with a base they can work from. The War Memorial Foundation, which I’m on the board of, could be an anchor tenant.”
For the last few years, Davis has been working with the War Memorial Foundation to complete the Carolina Field of Honor at Triad Park — a large-scale memorial, parade deck and recreation area.
Many people have donated to the project and the hope is that relationship can continue, Davis said.
“We’ve put up a memorial, which is important,” he said. “But now we need to look at the fact that we have folks who are living here in our community right now who have given so much for freedom at home and abroad. We need to take care of them, too.”
Davis said the idea for a center where nonprofits could come together to help veterans is something he’s been working on for years.
Program details aren’t yet available at this early stage, but Davis said he’s already in contact with a number of potential donors, volunteers and groups who want to participate. He hopes to soon have a donation platform setup on the War Memorial Foundation website.
“What we’ve learned from the Field of Honor is that this is a community that wants to help, that reaches out, that goes beyond,” Davis said. “And there are people out there who really need that.”