Vet Hub to open this month




by BRIAN NADIG

The Vet Hub, a new center that was opened to help veterans with their transition from military to civilian life, will open this month in Portage Park.

"It’s 100 percent volunteers, peer-to-peer counseling," Chicago Veterans president and executive director Kevin Barszcz said. The nonprofit group will oversee the 700-square-foot facility at 5031 W. Montrose Ave.

"We won’t turn anyone away," Barszcz said. "If we can’t help someone, we’ll connect them with somebody who can help them."

Barszcz said that the center’s volunteers will be veterans who will help other veterans apply for educational, medical or other benefits that they are eligible for. Other services, such as assistance with writing a resume or starting a business, also will be offered, he said.

Barszcz, an Old Irving Park resident, said that he enrolled at DePaul University after his service in the U.S. Navy ended in 2012 and that he and other veterans attending DePaul realized that they had the similar concerns, leading to the formation of Chicago Veterans in 2014.

The group created a Web site and began organizing job fairs and sports leagues to help veterans with their career search and social life. "A lot of veterans when they leave the military can become sheltered," Barszcz said. "They don’t leave the house."

The veterans group also organized several fund-raising events, and the donations it received allowed it to lease the storefront on Montrose, Barszcz said. The center will not charge for its services, which will be available by appointment.

Barszcz said that he chose Portage Park for the center because of a high number of veterans who live on the Northwest Side.

Community reaction to the center has been positive, and several local businesses have donated items for the center’s grand opening ceremony, which will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, Barszcz said. The facility will be open to visitors until 8 p.m. that day.

The center’s telephone number is 773-920-3839. It’s Web site can be reached at www.chicagovets.org.

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