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Veterans group purchases home, property

A group that formed this past spring with the intent of providing housing for homeless veterans has purchased a home and property for that purpose in Crawford County.
Desley Snyder, president of the board for the non-profit Southern Indiana Veteran Living and Rehabilitation Facility, said the group bid successfully earlier this month on a Carefree-area property that was sold at auction. It includes a four-bedroom house and approximately 13 acres. The purchase was made possible by an earlier anonymous donation of $170,000.
Snyder said the group plans to remodel the home this fall and house at least four veterans this winter.
“We’re all very excited,” she said as she shared the news.
The SIVLARF group organized after Snyder, the former Harrison County veterans service officer, talked with Jim Frays, Crawford County’s veterans affairs officer, and Crawford County Commissioner Dan Crecelius. All three agreed there was a need.
“We sat down and talked and came up with a plan to get this going,” she said.
The group originally looked into acquiring the old English Elementary School but abandoned that idea when it met with resistance from the public.
In the meantime, those interested continued meeting and found members for a full board, became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and worked on fundraising. Board members are Jim Fraze, fundraising; Dan Crecelius, maintenance/construction; Jenna Clem, secretary-treasurer; Leigh Lancie, legal representative; Steve Bartels, state government adviser; and Jerry Spanbauer, marketing.
“We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time,” said Snyder. “Our main goal was looking for land to put a facility.”
The current site offers room for a tiny home community in the future as well as land that could be used for gardening or farming.
“We hope to expand and have agriculture as our niche,” she said, adding veterans could raise crops and food to help feed residents and to sell.
That goes along with the board’s intent that the home will be a place that will help veterans who want to move forward in a positive direction do so with support, help and guidance.
“There will be a vetting process,” Snyder explained. “We only want veterans who want to become self-sufficient, be productive citizens and help themselves. Everybody will have to pay a portion of their income. We have to have buy-in,” she stressed. “It can’t be a free ride.”
The board plans to operate with a format that provides a specific program tailored to each individual with a time frame to meet goals.
“It will be a holistic approach; body, mind and spirit,” explained Snyder.
The organization hopes to work with the Robley Rex V.A. Medical Center in Louisville, using telecommunication for some appointments.
“They’re excited to use us as a test site,” she said.
Snyder is a Navy and Merchant Marine veteran who has worked with veterans since leaving active duty in 2013. She said veterans often face complex issues that others don’t understand.
“They may be dealing with PTSD, which some people don’t believe in, but it is real; it’s an issue,” she said, adding that PTSD results from a traumatic incident that changes the chemistry in the brain. “We want to concentrate on healing that. Medication covers it up; it doesn’t actually heal.”
Snyder said the SIVLARF will focus on helping veterans develop healthy coping skills to help them deal with PTSD and anxiety.
“We want to pick up where the V.A. falls short on services in treating these issues,” she said.
Fundraising remains a focus for the board, which will host a music festival Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Crawford County Community Park south of Marengo beginning at noon.
Snyder and the other board members hope the public will support the fundraiser and the mission of the SIVLARF.
“I hope everybody views it as a very important project,” she said. “We do have vets who need help getting back on their feet and back into society. This is not a hand out; it’s a hand up. I think people should respect that, and I hope they support it.”
The board is looking for someone to oversee program development. Email [email protected] for more information.
To make a donation, checks may be mailed to SIVLARF, P.O. Box 52, Elizabeth, IN 47117.
For more information about the home, including how to volunteer with property clean-up, or the music festival, contact Snyder at [email protected]