After announcing its move to Peru at the beginning of August, the La Salle County Veterans Assistance Commission ceremonially opened to local veterans and community members with a ribbon cutting and open house Monday.
The ribbon cutting was well attended by those involved with the La Salle County VAC, Peru officials and local veterans, among others in the community.
The VAC has been preparing the building in Suite 4 at 4321 Progress Blvd. Superintendent Steven Kreitzer was excited to show the community the building and to start moving forward with services.
“My organization and the support of the community were able to paint the majority of the office,” Kreitzer said. “We worked weekends, worked nights and really worked tirelessly to get this all to come to reality. Getting the building is one thing but getting it ready for the beginning of our new services and programs is the next thing.”
Among a variety of additional services, the La Salle County VAC wants to provide peer support groups for post traumatic stress disorder along with continuing to help veterans and their families apply for benefits and file claims with various government agencies.
“The biggest thing is to make sure that they know that they’re not alone in this struggle that they’re going through in life,” Kreitzer said. “There are other veterans that have gone through similar experiences and that really helps a lot of veterans.”
Other programs will include suicide prevention, Acres of Peace, AllenForce, among others to provide a wide range of services to the men and women of the armed forces.
“I think that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of all the different programs that are going to be coming,” Kreitzer said. “I’m really excited about that in the future.”
La Salle County VAC was previously located in Ottawa in an office with a smaller amount of square footage. Over the course of four years, the agency has worked toward finding a new location that will allow it not only to continue services, but also explore further expansion.
“It’s really amazing and was kind of an overwhelming undertaking but we’re hiring a new staff person that will hopefully be starting soon,” Kreitzer said. “We have all of these resources from the Veteran’s Expo. A lot of those resources are already starting to work together and create programs.”
Peru Mayor Ken Kolowski said he looks forward to seeing what else the agency will bring to veterans not only in Peru but also across the Illinois Valley.
“I love my veterans and I love patriotism and when (VAC Outreach Coordinator) Lissa Olson reached out and told me this was coming here, the excitement and enthusiasm was just wonderful,” Kolowski said. “It’s just going to be great.”
State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) attended to welcome the veterans organization, saying how important it is to have the resources VAC provides to local veterans.
“It’s an honor that we have the resources in the 38th District for our veterans but also a day like today shows you the need for these resources to be provided for all of the veterans that live in this area,” Rezin said.
Rezin was encouraged by the turnout and said the need for the services the VAC provides is important and the events over the last week put some issues more in the spotlight.
“It warms my heart, honestly,” Rezin said. “You had many members of the community here and more importantly you had the veterans from their associations in honor of the veterans. I think it’s more poignant today, than ever, especially after what happened this week in Kabul. Many people recognize the dangers now; they’ve seen it roll out in the past week on TV.”
The La Salle County VAC will be open from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m on Monday through Friday to assist veterans. Appointments are preferred and can be placed on their https://www.lasallecountyvac.com/ or by calling 815-433-1761.