Following World War I, Veterans Memorial Buildings were constructed across the nation to recognize the wartime sacrifices of military veterans. The Danville Veterans Memorial Building was completed in 1925 and has been used since that time primarily as a meeting and event hall for veterans’ activities. During its first half century, in addition to fulfilling its role as a veterans’ meeting hall, the building was the scene of many theatrical events and dances. More recently, it has continued to serve the needs of veterans’ organizations for their meetings and fund raising events, while also opening its doors to various community and seniors’ activities.
In 2007 a partnership was initiated between the Town of Danville and the Veterans Building Board of Trustees for the renovation of the historic front of the building and the construction of a new auditorium and the addition of spaces which will be dedicated to seniors’ activities. Contra Costa County transferred the building title to the Town of Danville with the stipulation that the town must provide for the Veterans’ primary use of the building in perpetuity. The renovation and construction work began in 2010 and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011.
The veterans’ organizations that utilize the building are numerous; they include the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Marine Corps League and the Vietnam Veterans of Diablo Valley.
Programs envisioned by the veterans’ organizations are designed to continue to meet the needs of older veterans in our community while introducing new programs to serve the younger veterans who have served our nation so valiantly in recent years. Both groups will be able to utilize on-site Veterans Administration representatives who can assist with veterans benefit counseling and claims processing. Local veterans’ health outreach services will also be available to both older and younger veterans.
Programs specifically designed to assist our older veterans population are expected to include support groups, planning and conducting workshops, forums, classes and social stimulation activities. Vietnam veterans will also be able to obtain preliminary screening to determine if they have suffered, or are likely candidates to develop, symptoms of diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange.
Programs in the following areas are currently envisioned to support our local population of younger veterans:
• California State Employment Development Department Outreach
• Veterans Family Outreach Services
• Vocational Rehabilitation Training and Counseling
• Support Groups for Employment Assistance, Current Veterans Issues and Social Interaction
Eighty-five years ago, when the Danville Veterans Memorial Building was dedicated, no one could have foreseen the legions of veterans that it would serve over its lifetime. Today’s veterans, with outstanding support from the Danville Town Council, the Town Manager and Town Staff are working to ensure that our renovated Veterans Memorial Building will be much more than bricks and mortar. Their plan is to ensure that it will be a place where veterans’ needs will be well served, now and well beyond the foreseeable future.
Ronald L. Lowe
Major General, Retired, United States Army