In November, veterans housing nonprofit Soldier On appeared before the Select Board to request additional funding in support of its proposed 21-unit project at 1660 Main St., adjacent to Heatherwood.
At the time, the Board asked Soldier On to Secure additional state financing guarantees. Last night, at a construction “commencement celebration” at Tewksbury Country Club, the organization presented more details on its plan, which includes an application for $3.9 million in funding from the Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development and $650,000 in affordable housing funds from Berkshire Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, in addition to the $350,000 pledged from Tewksbury’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Private fundraising efforts are also ongoing.
The project is backed by the Tewksbury Home Build. which sponsored last night’s event along with Design Group Inc., Gavin & Sullivan Architects, Groom Construction, Civil Design Consultants, SK Design and Mammoth Fire Alarms.
The group also brought more specifics on the build. The plan as presented by Soldier On CEO & president Bruce Buckley is to break ground this fall with a planned opening in fall 2023. The four-story building will house 18 one-bedroom units and three studio apartments. All will be fully furnished and include internet, cable, utilities and one meal per day. The facility will have a telehealth kiosk and transportation provided to bring residents to appointments. Veterans seeking units must meet income guidelines, and rent is based on that income.
All 21 units will be counted in Tewksbury’s affordable housing inventory.
In addition to permanent housing for veterans, Soldier On provides trauma-informed, wrap-around programming including mental health and addiction services, life skills training and workforce development and placement.
“We all talk about the 20 suicides a day by veterans since 2001,” said Col. David Sutherland, U.S. Army, retired, spokesperson for Soldier On. “There has not been a single suicide by a Soldier On veteran, because they create a connection with them, a personal connection.”
Soldier On has served more than 22,400 veterans since 2011 and provided $29.7 million in temporary financial assistance. And, services are not limited to resident veterans.
“We’ll do free transportation for veterans in the community that need transportation to the VA, to medical appointments, to job opportunities,” said Buckley. “We’re excited to be part of this community.”
Above photo, l-r: Rep. Vanna Howard, Bruce Panilaitis of Tewksbury Home Build, Rep. David Robertson, Soldier On CEO Bruce Buckley, Soldier On spokesman Col. David Sutherland, Soldier On director of real estate development Peter Graham, and Tewksbury Home Build board members Vincent Fratalia and Richard Hamm.