There are a lot of resources out there to help improve the lives of military veterans, but getting access to them or even knowing that they’re there can be a challenge in itself. Now, a local nonprofit is preparing to open a “one-stop shop” to help connect veterans services.
Thanks to the donation of office space, the Cache Valley Veterans Association is working to open the Dan Gyllenskog Veterans Resource Center in North Logan by Veterans Day this year according to CVVA representative Phil Redlinger.
“It’s an amazing space, perfect for us to fit in and set up for a one-stop shop for our veterans,” Redlinger said.
The center has been a long time coming, Redlinger said, and now CVVA is working to build out the location at at 1760 N. 200 East, Suite 100. The office space donor preferred to keep his name out of the spotlight to keep the focus on assisting veterans, according to Redlinger.
“The space is already built, but it needs to be built out, which means that offices have to get put in, carpet, the bathroom, whatnot-and-have-you,” Redlinger said. “There’s a lot of construction companies in the valley, there’s a lot of contractors in the valley, there’s a lot of architectural designers in the valley. We’re hoping to reach out to those folks to help us finish this facility. That would be amazing.”
The center is named after Dan Gyllenskog, a Marine veteran from Smithfield who served in Vietnam. Up until his death in 2014, Gyllenskog served in and helped found several local and state veterans organizations: He was commander of the Smithfield American Legion Post 58 for 30 years; officer in the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s Utah department and Chapter 995; a charter member and officer of Cache Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12076; a co-foundder of the Utah Chapter of the Wounded Warrior Fund; and one of the organizers of the Cpl. Gerald Max Rich Detachment #1352 of the Marine Corps League of Cache Valley.
“His mission was no veteran left behind,” Redlinger said. “He served them well. We wanted to make sure we named the center after a family veteran in the local community.”
Cache Valley Veterans Association serves Cache, Rich and Box Elder counties in Utah and Franklin County in Idaho.
“With that, the numbers are ranging anywhere between 10 and 15,000 veterans service members and their families,” Redlinger said. “So this will allow us to actually make it a one-stop shop. Nationally, one-stop shops have been recognized as a successful program, and so we feel being rural Utah, being a couple hours away from a local regional facility but having the partnerships to provide those services within the one-stop will be very successful with this community of veterans.”
The center will be a place for veterans to apply for benefits and programs and services in one place, as well as getting veterans in touch with Veterans Service Officers, benefit outreach specialists, homeless transition coordinators and mental health coordination efforts, Redlinger said.
A brick-and-mortar location will be vital in assisting veterans, especially those facing challenges with basic needs such as mental health, housing, medical care and finances.
“Cache Valley Veterans Association has been working really hard through long-distance driving, over the phone, emails and texting with folks to star trying to get those services connected to them,” Redlinger said. “Now we can actually have something tangible to hand the veteran, face-to-face, from a facility rather than ‘You need to go here, here and here, and, oh, by the way, just text me and see how you’re doing.’”
With the center, CVVA will be able to provide case-management services for homeless veterans, helping them overcome barriers in a housing market that can be expensive and tricky to navigate even for people with no record of homelessness. The physical location will give homeless veterans a more tangible way to contact CVVA, which can be vital for keeping in touch when people don’t have a physical address or consistent phone coverage.
The center should also help CVVA get veterans with suicidal ideation connected with peer mentors and others who can help them in a time of crisis.
“These individuals that are homeless, these individuals that are dealing with suicidal ideations, these individuals that are trying to reach out for benefits and services are doing it by phone or are doing it by texting,” Redlinger said. “They’re calling the VA and they’re waiting long periods of time. They’re assuming that the housing office has a VA service. They’re assuming that mental health can be done by a quick call. You know, suicidal ideation is not something that we can stop. However, if we can get some resources and identify that if this is going to happen, you know, we have the QPR (question, persuade, refer) certification that happens up here.”
In addition to reaching out to people who can help CVVA renovate the space, they’re also raising funds for the center’s operational costs through the Michael J. Allred Ride for the Fallen motorcycle event on Aug. 3, organized by Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association chapter 49-3.
The Cache Valley Veterans Association is a 501©19 nonprofit formally founded in 2016. For more information on how to get involved with CVVA, call (435)799-4849, visit their Facebook page at FB.com/CVVA16, or FB or visit their website at CacheValleyVeterans.org.
More info on the Michael J. Allred Ride for the Fallen is available at RideForTheFallen.us.