Aberdeen area veterans raise funds for new community center

ABERDEEN, SD (Dakota News Now) – The Aberdeen Area Veterans began raising funds to construct a brand new Veterans Memorial Building and Community Center on North Roosevelt Street in Aberdeen.

The idea of ​​a community center started on a napkin and eventually grew into a place where veterans of all branches gather.

“When you leave the military, you lose one thing. It’s camaraderie. A lot of people feel lost when they leave the military,” said the Army veteran and chairman of the board. from AAVI, Sean Johnson.

The building was intended to give local Aberdeen veterans organizations a home.

“The DAV was meeting in a church, the VFW was meeting in a shrine, nobody really has a home. We can’t maintain a house individually because in the past it all failed,” Johnson said.

AAVI soon realized that the need for resources for veterans extended far beyond the central city, so they decided to make it a regional community center.

“It’s for the northeast corner of South Dakota, and it’s over 100 miles. We’ve looked at veterans, and there are a lot of veterans who need help, and we would love to give them that help,” said Air Force and National Guard veteran Allan Ochsner.

The building will provide services such as mental health care, suicide prevention, organizational offices, convention areas, caregiver training, veterans housing, family support and more.

AAVI is campaigning in three phases. Since August, they have raised over $250,000 from veterans. In the next two months, they will campaign with companies and then with the general public.

AAVI also generates funds through a Chase the Queen raffle every Tuesday night at Lager’s Inn. Raffle tickets for vacation packages to Hawaii or Florida are also available on their website.

AAVI says they hope to innovate on the community center within the next 18 to 24 months, but won’t begin construction until they’ve reached 75% of their total goal of $5.2 million.

“Watching something grow from a napkin on a table to where we are now and where we’re going is an awesome ‘mission,’ I guess,” Johnson said.

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Jill E. Washington