Proposal to Create Norwich Hub to Help Veterans

Soon there could be a hub to help veterans and military families gain independence, employment and stable family lives.

The Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern Connecticut, based in Norwich, is working on a nearly $2 million project to expand its services.

It includes an 18,000-square foot warehouse that would be converted into a hub with mental health resources and vocational services.

"Have you thought about the needs of veterans? Suddenly it was this awakening. My goodness. It's where a lot of people are talking about the needs of veterans but not a lot of people are doing things," Dr. Allen Gouse, president & CEO of the Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern Connecticut, said. 

Gouse was inspired to create the project after being asked that question by Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, a few years ago.

Gouse said he realized Easterseals was serving veterans already, whether it be through the traumatic brain injury program or helping vets find jobs, but this new project, called 'Rally Point' would cater solely to them. 

It also helps that the branch is located in London County, a part of the state that has a sub base and heavy veteran population.

Rally Point could also have programs to help homeless veterans, a lounge where they can connect with one another and there could even be transportation to and from the facility.

"Eastern Connecticut has the highest concentration of veterans in our state. And no place in the nation, that I know of at least, has this kind of one-stop shopping," Senator Richard Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said he plans to ask the Department of Veterans Affairs for grants.

"(Rally Point) could be a model for the whole country," Blumenthal said.

Stanley Black & Decker already committed $1 million dollars to the project. Depending on when funding is secured, construction could take about 12 months, said Beth Pritchard, the executive vice president, chief marketing & philanthropy officer for Easterseals Capital Region & Eastern Connecticut. They would like to have the project fully up and running by September 2019.

The new space would cater to thousands of veterans and their families, Pritchard added.

"One of the biggest challenges is when veterans come home, it’s the transition for the military life into civilian life," Pritchard said.

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