Post Facto: Waverly Area Veterans Post Taking Shape
The following appeared on the front page of the August 13, 2015, edition of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. It has been republished on this website with permission from the author.
Some didn't think it could happen.
But anyone with doubts this community would come together to provide a new home to be shared by multiple veterans organizations can now see proof.
The new Waverly Area Veterans Post is going up at 1300 Fourth St. NW overlooking the Cedar River on the site of the former Waverly Veterans of Foreign Wars building.
For those involved in the project, dating back to flooding seven years ago, it's a sight to see.
"If you go back to 2008, it was not even within the realm of possibility," said Henry "Hank" Bagelmann, a board member of the Waverly Area Veterans Post.
Multiple existing veterans posts were heavily damaged in a flood that ravaged the city.
"We had a lot of folks say, ‘You can't raise that kind of money in a town of 10,000 people. It's never been done.' And yet, we had good people who persisted."
"It's going very well," said Larry Buchholz, another board member who is helping with the engineering work.
"We started a little late. We were about a month late, but we're pretty close to being on schedule. We'll have the building enclosed by November and doing work on the interior. We anticipate completing next spring or early summer," Buchholz added.
Fundraising has almost been completed with only about $280,000 yet to be raised for the $3.6 million project.
"We can see the end of the process," Bagelmann said.
The Board is already receiving inquiries about reserving the facility for events and will discuss when to start accepting reservations, Buchholz added.
"We're optimistic," he said. "After years, to really see it proceed like this is exciting."
The 17,300-square-foot facility, designed by InVision Architecture of Waterloo, will serve as a home for the Waverly Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, AMVETS and the Marine Corps League. Individuals from each group sit on the Waverly Area Veterans Post board of directors.
Organizers envision the two-level facility will have amenities such as Internet and video Skype for active service members' families to communicate with men and women around the world. It also will be a one-stop shop where veterans can apply for benefits, jobs, educational opportunities and other services.
Organizers believe it will be the first jointly operated post for multiple veterans organizations.
Damage to existing post buildings in the 2008 flood, and large numbers of veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, afforded Waverly veterans a chance to explore the idea.
Among other funds, the Vision Iowa Board approved a $600,000 grand for the project in September. Gov. Terry Branstad has voiced his support. The project has more than 700 donors, ranging from local veterans to husband-wife actors Tom Hands and Rita Wilson and Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Evan "Curly" Hultman of Waterloo served as honorary fundraising chairman and secured a contribution from Powell, with whom he was acquainted from their service.
"Over 70 percent of the gifts we've received have been for less than $1,000," Bagelmann said. "This is a grassroots effort."
Donations are still being accepted.
Information is available online at www.waverlyvets.us