MONTGOMERY COUNTY — A local organization dedicated to helping veterans is seeking a space it can use as its headquarters.
Mountains To Miracles Veterans Foundation –a non-profit organization founded in Tribes Hill in 2012 — is looking for a location with enough space to house its offices and an area to store and display donations. The group intends for its new headquarters to be in an easily accessible location, where veterans could seek mental health services
On Saturday, Thomas Elwood, the commander of Mohawk Valley VFW Post 3275 in Fort Plain, outlined the goals of Mountains To Miracles during a meeting of St. Johnsville’s Neighborhood Watch.
“What [Mountains to Miracles] does is reach out to any veteran — no matter the branch, what time they served, or wherever they served — to help them with basically anything they need,” he said.
While the group aims to fill whatever need a veteran may have, Elwood — the chief operation officer of Mountains to Miracles — outlined some of the organization’s specific initiatives, including securing vehicles and service animals for veterans.
Service animals, Elwood said, have the ability to assist veterans suffering with physical disabilities, and those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
Elwood said many of the 2,800 veterans registered as homeowners in Montgomery County — that number not including those renting or staying with friends or family — could potentially benefit from mental health assistance.
A significant number of those veterans are unaware of what benefits they qualify for via the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system, Elwood said, which currently only provides services out of the Albany Stratton and Syracuse VA Medical Centers.
“Everybody here in the middle is on their own unless they can get a ride to Albany or Syracuse,” he said.
The VA health care system has agreed to provide mental health services in-house at the Mountains to Miracles headquarters once it is established, he said. Services would be available once a week at first, with there being potential for mental health services to be provided several times a week. Elwood said the Family Counseling Center in Gloversville has also agreed to partner with MTM.
Though the organization has not found its home base yet, Elwood said he can still assist veterans in finding out what benefits they qualify for, and with their entry into the VA health care system; he said that can be a challenge sometimes.
“We can get [veterans] established into the VA health care system, and get them the care they need and the benefits they deserve,” he said.
Elwood said Mountains to Miracles is seeking an approximately 3,000-square-foot facility to serve as its headquarters — the donated use of which would be tax deductible — which would also serve as a Miracles Center. The Miracles Center portion of the space would provide veterans with a wide variety of items, including silverware, clothing and appliances, he said.
“We want to get established in this area, and will be covering Schoharie, Montgomery, Fulton and Herkimer counties,” Elwood said about the Miracles Center.
He said one goal is to eventually open the facility not only to veterans, but also to community members who have fallen on hard times.
“It won’t be just VA related, and it won’t be there just for the veteran,” Elwood said regarding the Miracles Center. “It’ll also be there for the community, and it will be free.”
Elwood said the group is considering a location in Nelliston and a space that has been offered in Gloversville — though they will still look at other facilities.
Elwood said Mountains to Miracles is seeking — along with a facility to call home — donations and volunteers, including individuals familiar with grant writing, and those willing to assist in securing and moving donated items, washing clothing, cleaning and setting up the eventual headquarters.
Those interested in providing donations, volunteer time, ideas regarding potential locations for the organization, or information about a veteran who may be in need of assistance, can call Elwood at 518-848-2696.