The Socorro Volunteer Group plans a community of homeless veterans

If an ambitious project by a group of local volunteers materializes, the homeless veterans of Socorro will have a place of their own.

The plan calls for a community of small homes on 22 acres of private land 30 miles south of Socorro at the San Marcial exit on Interstate 25. Retired US Air Force and DAV Socorro Chapter Commander Daun Medaris is funding the project with his wife Darlene and Roxann Scott.

Medaris said they were considering going through government programs, but “at the government level, the paperwork kind of gets in the way, so we’ll put our money for that.”

The project is located in the Highland Springs subdivision, which was formerly part of the Pedro Armendaris land grant.

“It will be called Forget Me Not Veterans Park,” Medaris said. “The land is improved with water and electricity.”

Air Force veteran Roxann Scott, owner of Forget Me Not Thrift Store, said supporting veterans and veterans’ causes is one of her top priorities.

“Since we opened, the thrift store has helped support the DAV,” Scott said. “And now we’re continuing that by starting this tiny house veteran community.”

A tiny house is described as a home under 400 square feet, with an average of around 225 square feet.

Medaris said three of the tiny houses have been purchased and will be put in place in November.

“We hope to have three here by Veterans Day,” he said. “The lot already has a 40’x40′ store to build small houses for homeless veterans.

“And we have the plumbing on the way. I hope he will be there for Veterans Day,” he said. “And a 28’x60′ modular building we purchased in Albuquerque.”

Medaris said the small community of houses will have an administration building, barracks, food hall, laundromat and community showers.

“Also a chapel for spiritual guidance if veterans need it,” he said.

Scott is confident that the project will be successful.

“We have a large force of volunteers who are enthusiastic about helping us and who are just waiting for everything to come together,” she said. “A lot of veterans want to give back to their fellow veterans and a lot of them have expertise in building and building.”

“We have certified a therapist who specializes in PTSD, who is ready to come and volunteer,” she said. “I’ve spoken to several nurses I know who are willing to come in for wellness checks. It’s amazing that our community pulls together like this. I would be more than happy to talk to people about volunteering.

Scott said one of the main reasons was to give veterans a home address.

“Without an address, they can’t get any veteran’s benefits, so it’s to be able to give them the opportunity to get the benefits they deserve,” Scott said. “The other thing is, I think, it’s going to boost the way they feel about themselves and their self-esteem and give them purpose. Because being homeless, they’re looked down on. But, you know, they served our country, they are our forgotten heroes and they deserve respect.

“We hope to teach them some skills,” she said. “They can help build more of our little houses for other veterans.”

Scott, vice commander of the Socorro DAV chapter, said the effort was not tied to any other veterans’ organization.

“No other entity is involved in this,” she said.

The public dedication of Forget Me Not Veterans Park is scheduled for November 11 at 2 p.m.

Medaris encourages the public to attend, “after the Veterans Day celebration at Isidro Baca Park.”

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