When U.S. Army veteran and native Chattanoogan Vincent Spann returned home following his retirement from the armed forces in October 2001, he had difficulty locating targeted resources in the area, such as organizations that assist retired veterans in finding employment.
The idea behind his new nonprofit organization, Connecting Veterans to Resources, is to help other local vets transition to civilian life by creating a one-stop shop where they can access resources such as housing assistance, help applying for disability benefits, or assistance for vets with criminal records in getting their records expunged.
"I want it to be a seamless transition," he said of retiring from the armed forces. "We need more people on the ground giving veterans the information they need."
Spann said he plans to open the organization's facility, located on Fourth Avenue in East Chattanooga, in November around Veterans Day. It will serve veterans of all branches of the armed forces, regardless of their reason for discharge.
"Veterans are one of our most precious stones in our society," said Spann. "I think it's important to give them a place to come to build their relationships with other vets and support each other going forward."
While he said most service organizations for veterans are only open until 4 or 5 p.m., he will keep his volunteer-run facility open until 8 p.m. on weekdays and will open on some weekend days as well.
"We put their needs in the front seat of our decision making," he said.
Spann is currently in the process of raising the $13,000 necessary to pave the grassy area behind the building, which would make it more easily accessible to disabled veterans. For a $1,000 donation, people can dedicate a parking space at the new facility.
He is also selling granite bricks for $128 each that will go in the ground in front of the building. Bricks will be engraved with the name of a veteran the donor would like to honor, along with their branch of the armed forces and dates of service.
Connecting Veterans to Resources is located at 3210 Fourth Ave. To make a donation or for more information, visit cv2r.org or call 385-5155.
Email Emily Crisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.