Help for veterans was not just a promise but a reality as officials gathered on Wednesday, Oct. 30, for the grand opening of a new rental housing complex at the Lyons Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center. The three residential buildings of “Valley Brook Village,” which will provide 62 units of housing for formerly homeless veterans, provided a backdrop with grass lawns and lampposts on a cloudy but mild afternoon.
“Today, we do much more than opening doors at new buildings,” said Undersecretary for Health Robert A. Petzel, the keynote speaker. “We give the veterans who walk through those doors a chance at a new beginning.” Ten speeches were given by federal, state and county officials and others involved with the project, but probably none resonated more than comments from two resident veterans in a short film shown inside the ceremony tent.
“Coming here is probably the best thing in my life,” veteran Bill Ehrie, who spent the prior two years at Lyons in transitional housing, said in the film. “They got me on the right course medically and psychologically.” “I’ve become a better man, I’ve become employed,” veteran Joe Malcolm said in the film. He recalled that on the streets of New York, the only animals he saw were rats and stray dogs, and from his new apartment he now sees hawks and deer.
“My own place,” he marveled. “I haven’t had peace of mind in years.”