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Veterans unite to transform old KCK motel into support center for those struggling after combat

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- As we honor the sacrifice of soldiers on Veteran`s Day, a group of Vietnam veterans in the metro area is taking it upon themselves to create a private support center, specifically for those who`ve served.

"We are going to take all this out and put new sheet rock in here," said one of the men working on the project.

They show up nearly every day to work. Volunteers from all around the metro area, who share a common experience. They all served our nation in the military.

"It's necessary for veterans to take care of veterans," one of the volunteers Louie Riedel said. "Nobody understands what we're going through."

They come to an old motel in KCK that was owned by World War II veteran Mack Foreman. Before the 94-year-old passed away earlier this year, he told his family he wanted the property to be turned into a place where veterans could come together and help each other.

"What he really wanted to do is give veterans an alternative instead of having to go down to the VA, to the large buildings and what not, dealing with massive amounts of people," his son Carl Foreman said. "He wanted them to be able to come into a place that was more inviting."

For years this motel was a popular night spot and gathering place. Veterans want to see it regain that popularity among their exclusive group.

"I`m in the position that as long as I`m living, I`m going to help a vet," project leader, Bob Ford, said.

Many in this group already receive veteran benefits. By remodeling motel rooms to provide temporary housing for homeless and disabled vets, they hope to teach others how to get into the VA system for the support they need.

"Some veterans we have are working but don't have shelter," Ford said. "Matter of fact the first one I got, I got him out of a place where he was sleeping where he worked at. That's terrible!"

One man`s dying wish to create a support center can provide the hope for many who struggle with demons brought on by their sacrifice.

It may take a year before rehab of the old motel is complete. The group is looking for more volunteers and relies on donations of construction materials. Members of the Penrod Veterans Hall will pay dues to support the center`s operations.