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Iowa Veteran's Welcome Center Opens

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--The Iowa Veteran's Welcome Center held its grand opening Friday.

The center will serve as place for veterans throughout the area to meet up and even conduct job searches.

Last week, we showed you the ribbon cutting of the building that was damaged in the floods of '08.

The reopening of the building means a lot to local veterans who say they now feel like they have a place they belong.

Veterans and community leaders came out to celebrate what they say is a huge sign of progress in the city.

In this room are some of the brave faces who fought for our country, and back at home, they are still fighting, fighting for each other.

"We just are here to help the veterans," said veteran Dennis Conaway.

That's exactly what the Iowa Veteran's Welcome Center is all about. Being there.

"The help I got. I want somebody to come in so I can help them," said Jay Kaiser.

It all began with a simple idea.

"There's five original members out of a PTSD group who decided we needed a place to go when we got through with our counseling," Conaway said.

A vision that finally found its footing about a year ago.

First they settled in a building on 1st avenue, then they heard about the reopening of the veterans memorial building.

So now here they are, celebrating the grand opening of the Iowa Veteran's Welcome Center.

"It took a lot of road work. We've partnered now with a lot of agencies locally here. The VA, the homeless shelter," said center President Roger Wiest.

Hard work for a center that will serve as a place for job searching, a library, food pantry and as a second home to these veterans.

"It's a place to go where you have something in common with people...I talk to a lot of the guys to see what they have gone through if they want to talk about it," said veteran Richard Johnson Jr.

"We've been blessed. We've got space, we've got time, and we've got people. We're just here to see that people get the direction they need," said Conaway.

The welcome center is not just for veterans, it also serves their spouses or children who might need help and support.
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