BUTNER, N.C. (WTVD) -- Soaring temperatures couldn't keep about 50 supporters of the Veterans Life Center in Butner away from Saturday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Colonel David Hayden acknowledged the changes that transpired since he served: "I'm an Army veteran and honored to chair the board of directors of the Veterans Life Center. We only have a limited number of people here this morning for safety reasons, due to the COVID."
The Center represents opportunity for North Carolina veterans struggling to cope after their service to the nation. They face a variety of challenges including homelessness, addiction, mental health and family issues. Federal, state and private sector funding sources made the center possible, and organizers invited key representatives to speak about it.
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"This is a first of its kind," said Sen. Thom Tillis, "but I hope it replicates itself across the country. Think about how many lives will be transformed and how many lives will be saved."
The center's founder John Turner choked up for a moment while expressing his gratitude to supporters. "I'm sorry. Something that you dream about, something that a lot of people said wouldn't happen, something they said I didn't have the talent to do. To them I have two words, thank you."
"In this time of adversity, remember that we have about 500,000 people today who are unemployed," said Anthony Copeland, North Carolina's Secretary of Commerce. "Many of them are veterans. Think about them. A tremendous number of them lost their COVID security yesterday."
Organizers of the center want veterans who need a helping hand to consider it their lifeline.