The first hostel for Defence Forces veterans in Munster will be officially opened on September 18 and become home to five ex-servicemen.
The €500,000 project in Cobh, Co Cork is nearing completion and was spearheaded by local members of the ONE (Organisation for National Ex-Servicemen).
The redevelopment of a house at Harbour Row was made possible through ONE fundraising locally, including a very successful golf classic, along with money provided by the government from the Dormant Accounts Fund.
ONE Cobh spokesman Diarmuid Higgins said five ensuite rooms would house the veterans and the building would also act as a drop-in advice centre for other veterans, stating, “this is the first of its type in Munster. We have a centre with 35 rooms in Dublin and centres in Athlone and Donegal which have seven rooms each.”
The Naval Service will form a guard of honour at the official opening of the hostel for defence forces veterans by Minister for Defence Simon Coveney.
It will also be attended by Defence Forces Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, in what is likely to be one of his last official engagements before he retires.
The ONE has been working closely with other voluntary groups in Cork to identify vulnerable veterans who need help and if anybody knows one they can contact the organisation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ONE Cobh chairman Pat Feen said he wanted to thank everybody who helped raise money through the golf classic, including Olympic boxing champion Michael Carruth and GAA legend Tomás Ó Sé who took part.
ONE chief executive officer Ollie O’Connor said,“We would love to forecast an end to the plight of homeless veterans, but we believe the situation will continue to grow worse. That is why we are constantly developing our services.”
In the last 18 months, ONE has increased the number of rooms for homeless veterans from 30 to 35 in its Brú na bhFiann hostel in Dublin.
They have also employed two Veterans’ Support Officers to develop a counselling service to veterans, one located in ONE head office in partnership with the Leopardstown Park Hospital Trust and the other located in Brú na bhFiann in partnership with the HSE.
It has continued to improve the seven-bedroom facilities in Beechwood House Letterkenny and Custume House Athlone.
Mr O’Connor said the development of a similar facility in Cork City, with six bedrooms, is also being planned.
He said that ONE would hold its annual fundraiser, the Fuchsia Appeal, at the end of next month. Money gained from this will be used to provide ongoing supports for veterans.
Source: Emergency Services