Delays for full-service support center for veterans, families

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Veterans across the state vow to never forget.

The Indiana National Guard is expecting as many as 90,000 returning soldiers from across the state to reach out for help.

This Memorial Day, the opening of a new support center to keep war heroes from falling through the cracks is facing delays.

It was a day of honor for those who served, fought and died.

"We should never forget, and we should honor all of those who served," said Stan Brookie, a Korean War Veteran who spent part of his Memorial Day remembering veterans at Washington Park East Cemetery.

With the draw down of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, many now are coming home with wounds, seen and unseen.

It's prompted Indiana's top General to create a full service support program to keep combat soldiers struggling with unemployment, post traumatic stress, broken families and even homelessness from falling through the cracks. Those services are currently being provided at the Guard's facility at 3762 West Morris Street in Indianapolis.

"We created this so that we could focus on the families, we could focus on the wounded and try to help those who need benefits to get benefits," explained Indiana's Adjutant General R. Martin Umbarger.

The program was supposed to come under one roof in January of this year, but that didn't happen.

"I think the last time they did roof work on this building was about 8 years ago, and we've got some new water leaks," explained Col Ross Waltemath, during a tour of the Tyndall Armory last November.

That's when 13 Investigates revealed the premiere site chosen for the center, was full of cracks itself.   Repairs at armories across Indiana are supposed to be paid for with facility rental fees.   13 Investigates found few repairs were made with the money raised at the Tyndall Armory.

Built in the 1920's, the Tyndall downtown sat neglected for years.  Now the opening of the one-stop-shop for veterans is approaching a 6-month delay.

Initially, the Indiana National Guard approved $200,000 in repairs for this old facility.  But after finding more problems, that price tag has gone up.

"We were going to move in earlier, but we found where we had our construction folks come back, and I said I want to make sure if we fix it, we fix it correctly.   And there were some other areas that we felt like needed to be addressed, and that's what we're doing," explained Umbarger.

He says services are still being provided for veterans through the guard's Family Programs unit.
And although the first-of-its-kind program won't have a home of its own until possibly July, the idea is already catching on..

"18 other states have called us and copied it and I think it's very very important because again, we can't forget those that have served," added General Umbarger, who did not have a final tally on the cost of the repairs at the Tyndall Armory.  
A spokesman with the Army National Guard said the figures would be available when offices reopen after the holiday.

Guardsman in need, can call the national hotline for Family Programs at 1-800-237-2850, extension 3192.