When I first learned about the Ericksons' desire to donate their accessibility adapted home to veterans in transition, I was overcome by their generosity and by the sense of hope for veterans in our community.
Unfortunately this was quickly dimmed by disappointment when I learned that several residents near the home objected, largely due to fear of veterans with mental illness or substance use disorders, or fear about their property values.
I can't convince anyone to share my values for human beings over property values. What I can do is assure you that there is not a neighborhood in this community that doesn't already have within it individuals living with mental illness and addiction, many of whom are untreated and lack adequate support and resources.
I would welcome this facility in my own backyard, regardless of how it might affect my property value. This unthinkably generous gift will not only provide secure housing, but support, resources and 24-hour supervision for veterans who are already stable enough to qualify for transitional services.
I hope the neighbors will work with rather than against the VA to get their questions and concerns answered so that the Ericksons can move forward with their incredible gift.
I further hope that our common council will do right by the veterans who have sacrificed and served on all of our behalf.
"Support our veterans" is a lovely sentiment; let's go beyond empty platitudes and embrace the opportunity to put into practice.
Joella Striebel, La Crosse