Veterans hangout hopes to save lives - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Veterans hangout hopes to save lives

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Sneak peek at the new Veteran's First Center in Alta, Iowa.  Organizers say they are still looking for volunteers, and help. Sneak peek at the new Veteran's First Center in Alta, Iowa. Organizers say they are still looking for volunteers, and help.
ALTA, Iowa (KTIV) -

A U.S. military veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes according to a new report published this month by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

And, one Iowa family said they've lost too many in their own community not to do anything about it.

"We thought that he was getting better and he was dealing with these issues, but as fate had it, he was not and he chose ending his life," Gary Emery, Vice President of Veteran's First said.

Gary Emery wishes more could have been done to save Dillon Naslund, a longtime and close family friend.

"That was the second funeral that I had been to in the last 3 months, that was the same scenario; a young soldier felt that suicide was a way out," Emery said.

He said there are more Dillon Naslund's out there, and that's why he and his wife have opened up Veteran's First in Alta, Iowa. A place for veterans to hang out.

"We have puzzles, we have the TV here, you could put videos in, we have places you could read, play cards, play pool," Deborah Emery said.

The Emerys have reached out to the community for support and donations, right now they're working on getting signage for their building.

They hope the center becomes a place for veterans to support each other.

"They don't want to talk to the wives or tell them the things that they've seen. There's other people out here who have seen what they've seen, and talking with each other, will help them out I think," Deborah Emery, Veteran's First President said.

But it's not all about intervention. Gary Emery is an Army veteran, and said it's hard to adjust back to civilian life after serving. He hopes Veteran's First becomes a place for camaderie, and fun for veterans across all military branches.

"We're not counselors, or therapists, we just want to be friends," Gary Emery said.

The center officially opens Monday, February 18th.  Most of the items were donated by the public.  They say they're still in need of more volunteers.

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