OCEANSIDE, Calif. - There were no manicured lawns with white crosses or marble plaques for Memorial Day services. Instead, work lights hung from electrical cords and unfinished drywall surrounded guests. Yet, it was a sign of progress.
As scores of people crowded into that unfinished room, Chuck Atkinson, who founded the Veterans Association of North County, knows he is just weeks away from a sorely needed facility for veterans in the North County.
"There are plenty of resources for veterans in San Diego, but it's quite a distance. I want to have a one-stop resource facility right here," Atkinson said during a tour of a number of classrooms and meeting areas he hopes to have finished next month. "We're still short about $700,000 to finish the banquet hall and kitchen, plus whatever furniture we need, but that's the push now, to get donations to make it happen."
Atkinson hopes to unite 30 different agencies so that upwards of 80,000 veterans who live in the North Country will have a place they can come to for answers.
"Many veterans, especially to nearby Camp Pendleton, are new to the area. They don't have transportation, so we want to be the place they can turn to," he said.
The center on Mission Avenue is on the same site as the headquarters for the old Oceanside Police Department.