Fayetteville’s new Southeast Region Veteran's Vocational Training Center had its grand opening last week. As current veterans come home they often find themselves beset with emotional and psychological problems, and many lack the education to find work. The vocational center is meant to serve these needs, offering education in Information Technology, Automotive, Real Estate, Accounting and Finance, Construction, and more.
The grand opening drew a number of local dignitaries and veterans, many of whom offered some thoughts. The veterans in particular emphasized the need to be fully aware of how difficult it can be for men and women in the military to re-assimilate after a tour of duty. The bright silver lining, though, is that resources like the Southeast Region Veteran's center are more prevalent today than ever before.
"More than one a day, that is how many members of our active military, national guard, and reserve forces have committed suicide over the last year," said
Arnie Geiger, VFW Post #50 (Peachtree City) Commander, "Simply put we are losing more service members by their own hands than we are by the enemy."
Geiger led with that shocking statistic to underscore how necessary it is to offer returning veterans as much help as possible.
"Only those who have experienced first hand the horrors of combat can understand why most of these young men and women feel compelled to take such drastic and permanent measures,' Geiger said, "Those of us gathered here today know that we love them, that we appreciate them and we are grateful for their service. We are their friends, we are their family, we are their co-workers and we are their neighbors. It is up to us to ensure that every veteran feels that his or her service to his country is appreciated by their fellow Americans."
Geiger said vocational training is one of those important ways to give veterans a boost.
"As we know education is the resolution to securing employment. Let us be ever mindful that it is our duty as veterans to assist our fellow veterans to become a successful member in their community," Geiger said.
Ronald Stubbs, Commander of the VFW 3650 (Fayetteville), said Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a major obstacle for many returning veterans. Himself a Vietnam veteran, Stubbs said he had struggled in his own way over the years.
"Learning about PTSD and everything has been a long learning experience," Stubbs said. "As local VFW commander one of my goals is to make sure the soldiers coming home today aren't treated the way we were. We need to be there for our soldiers."
He said there have been many instances of veterans calling him for help with gas or grocery money in a tough time. Stubbs said he and the VFW strive to be there for those veterans when they call.
Superior Court Judge Fletcher Sams said that he had encountered many veterans struggling with various issues in his time on the bench.
"One thing I've seen over the years are veterans coming through the court system, some times under sad circumstances,' Fletcher said, "I took great pride when I could recognize a veteran, I have forgiven many a speeding ticket for them, telling them it's the least this community could do for their service."
County Commissioner Steve Brown credited the center's cofounders, Ms. Rosalind Sconiers and Mrs. Vasana Smith, saying the local governments "are behind this, we appreciate all that you do."
"One thing I love about Fayette County-- we have relatively small in population," Brown said, "we don't have the population that a Fulton county or Clayton or Dekalb or Gwinnett has. We don't have all ot of the financial resources they may have, but one thing we do have is a lot of people who really care about the community."
The new center is located at 110 Commerce Drive in Fayetteville.