OCEANSIDE — City Council approved a capital funds match of $600,000 for the Veterans Association of North County (VANC) on May 28.
The city’s matching contributions will help speed up seven years of fundraising to renovate the VANC Resource Center building.
“I think it’s a fantastic thing, and long overdue,” Chuck Atkinson, president and founder of the VANC, said.
The VANC Resource Center opened on Mission Avenue in 2007. Prior to the resource center being open North County veterans needed to go to San Diego or Long Beach for services.
The building VANC moved into was largely an empty shell.
Front offices, restrooms and the majority of plumbing and electricity have been added at a cost of $630,000, as funds allowed.
The city’s matching funds, along with $600,000 the VANC will raise, will complete the final catering kitchen and large conference room.
The goal is to expand services offered, and accommodate the growing number of veterans due to military downsizing.
Veteran support services help veterans transition to civilian jobs and deal with postwar PTSD and addictions. For many veterans services are a lifeline.
Marine Corps veteran Barbara Cogburn said fellow veterans have a high suicide rate, higher than average unemployment rate and increased risk of becoming homeless.
“Veterans need to manage physical and mental health issues,” Cogburn said. “Females who have been in combat have a much different capacity of dealing with things, and much different issues.
“For seven years we piecemealed fundraising through grants and are two-thirds through building,” she added. “We don’t have another seven years.”
Atkinson said he does not have an estimate on how long it will take to raise matching funds, but shared the news that things are looking promising.
“We’re talking to people and asking them to step up and help us raise those funds,” he said. “They’re coming out of woodwork.”
The VANC provides veterans, active duty military and their families with referrals to 37 military support agencies, in-house job transition workshops and career training in fiber optics. Cogburn said there is elbow-to-elbow seating at workshops that are currently offered.
When the final building renovations are completed career training in culinary arts and additional workshops will be offered.
Finished renovations will also aid the VANC to be self-sustaining. VANC meeting rooms with video and teleconferencing capacity, a catering kitchen, a lounge and a large conference room will be rented out to help support VANC services.