Vets post groundbreaking to highlight Armed Services Day
Military veterans and those who support them will be on hand for the Northwoods Veterans Post groundbreaking celebration, slated for 2 p.m. Saturday, May 19, Armed Services Day.
Tens of thousands of veterans across northcentral Wisconsin will be served by the new post, made possible by a land grant of 4.3 acres from Church Mutual Insurance Company. Since the land was granted in late 2016, volunteers from across the region have worked tirelessly to raise funds for the new building. It will replace the existing VFW facility in downtown Merrill, which lacks space, accessibility and safety features. The new, $2.8 million Northwoods Veterans post will be located on Johnson Street near the Merrill Memorial Park Cemetery.
The 14,376-square-foot facility will support military members, scouts, their families and the entire region. It will be available for training events, meetings, social events, sports and, most importantly, veteran affairs services. Currently, many vets must travel to Tomah, La Crosse, Milwaukee or elsewhere in Wisconsin for veterans affairs services.
The Northwoods Veterans Post will serve eight essential veteran and scout organizations, making it one of only a few joint organizational posts in the nation bridging the gap between veterans, youth and the private sector.
The new post, expected to open 2020, will include a wellness room, a fitness center, eight offices, four meeting rooms, an education center, kitchen, storage building and volleyball courts. The post also offers access to hiking, biking, snowmobile and ATV trails.
In addition, the building will provide a home for our nation’s first United States Military Chaplains Registry offering opportunities for continued support all over the world.
“It will be such a thrill to put the first shovel in the ground,” said Paul Russell, chairman of the Northwoods Veterans Support Group, the Merrill-based organization spearheading the project. “The Northwoods Veterans Post will mean so much for military members and their families in our region. From social services to veterans affairs support, the facility will become a great resource for northcentral Wisconsin.” Russell is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served for 31 years.
Church Mutual, one of the largest, best-known employers in the region, sees a natural affinity between the company and the new post.
“At Church Mutual, we are driven by a commitment to serve those who serve others,” said President and CEO Rich Poirier, a U.S. Navy veteran who retired in 2010 as a captain. “Veterans represent service in the very best sense of the word. They have risked their lives to protect our freedoms. They deserve our thanks, respect and ongoing support well beyond their active-duty years.”
Poirier also is pleased Church Mutual is playing a part in establishing the country’s first chaplains registry. Church Mutual insures houses of worship of all faiths across the U.S., as well as other faith based and nonprofit organizations.