State closing down local facility for homeless veterans

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

MONROE CO. (WEAU)- In 30-days, the state will close down a local facility that takes in homeless veterans.

The 10 veterans living in the Veteran Assistance Center located in Fort McCoy have until December 30th to find another place to live.

Up until a month ago 20-year-old veteran Jacob Fisher had no place to call his own. That's why he found this home at Fort McCoy to be his safe haven.

"I just got this job, full time factory work. It's the best opportunity
I have had in a long time and now for it to be stripped from it before I
even got it going I have a lot of mixed feelings,” said Fisher.

But on Tuesday Fisher found out the center will be closed down. It's a cold time of year, and now he's afraid he'll be back out on the street.

"I don't want to go back to running around looking for food, running
around to find a shelter, and I don't want to sleep in random places
anymore," said Fisher.

The state's Department of Veterans Affairs says it decided to close down the center as part of re-organizing and getting rid of duplicate services. There is a federal veteran’s assistance program called Veterans Assistance Foundation that provides the same services 5 miles down the road in Tomah.

"Honestly the reason it is ending now is because the contract ends at
the end of December, and it was time to look at our contract and make
decisions that are best for the taxpayer,” said WDVA Executive Assistant Jenna Homburg.

The Tomah facility says it has the open beds to take in the Fort McCoy veterans if they decide that they would like to live there.

“And if for some reason we didn’t we would make room,” said President of Veterans Assistance Foundation Colin Moten.

Last year the facility at Fort McCoy cost taxpayers more than 300 thousand dollars to keep it up and running. The center holds 14 beds while the Veterans Assistance Foundation in Tomah holds more than 60.

The state says the Tomah center is better suited for the vets. After all, it's closer to the VA hospital. Fisher just worries that he won't be accepted because he hasn't served
as much as some of the other vets.

"I don't have anything except for my clothes and some personal things
and I'll just have to shorten it all down again to living out of a
backpack,” said Fisher.

Moten says that while he hasn’t looked at Fishers paperwork personally, “if he is not accepted in the Veterans Association Foundation we will find another place for him to go within the state.”

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