KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Veterans Community Project was founded by a group of combat veterans in Kansas City to fill the gaps of a broken system that left too many of their brothers and sisters behind.
In the past two years, the group has built a village of 49 tiny homes to help homeless veterans. That project is now complete.
One of the finishing touches is the village’s flagpole, which the group spent time Wednesday preparing to install.
Have you ever wondered why there’s a gold ball at the top of those pole? We found out from an impromptu little ceremony at the Veterans Community Project.
“So the tradition is, or at least the folklore is, when you’re a watch stander in the military that the decorative balls that sit on top of the flagpole contains a round of ammunition and a book of matches,” Veterans Community Project COO Matthew Bonnot said.
“The reason for that, or so the folklore goes, is that if your position is overrun you can burn the flag and use the round of ammunition to either protect yourself or to end your own life.”
It’s a military tradition like that, of taking care of your brothers and sisters, that VCP also does by providing tiny homes to veterans who need to get back on their feet.
“I mean we’re creating our own traditions here at VCP, but to carry on some of the ones that you’ve lived with for your entire military career it’s, it’s very meaningful,” Bonnot said.
The installation of the flagpole marks the completion of the tiny homes village. Now, some people moving in will have a home for the holidays for the first time in a long time.
“It’s going to be a relaxing Thanksgiving. I haven’t been able to celebrate in the last few years,” Air Force veteran Timothy Garinger said.
For the past three years, he’s been bouncing around from state to state, crashing with friends, never knowing when his welcome would wear out and he would be homeless again.
“Having a home is security and knowing that I can breathe,” Garinger said. “I don`t have to worry, ‘Am I going to be on the streets? Am I going to find somewhere to eat?'”
His new home comes with all of the holiday amenities, including a turkey, pumpkin pie and other fixin’s of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Garinger suffers from PTSD and said now that he’ll have stability for at least two years, he can work on his mental health as well as finish his degree and save money so he can afford his own home.
On Dec. 4, the flagpole will be placed and the Christmas lights that line the tiny homes will be turned on to celebrate the success of this project.