Eastern Iowa Veterans Create a New Kind of Community Center

Oct 12, 2015

Jim Wagner likes to work on old cars; that’s how it all started.

Wagner is a veteran and co-founder of the Veteran’s Freedom Center in Dubuque, a non-profit organization devoted to helping veterans who have fallen through the cracks of more traditional outreach programs. Al Rowell, also a co-founder of the center, says last year they saw more than 6,000 vets circle through their doors. The oldest was 95-years-old, and the youngest was in his early 20s. 

“I suffer from PTSD, so does Jim. The best therapy for me is to help others. This is how I get it,” he explains. “Vets are a proud bunch. Asking for help is something we don’t do, but if we can connect with each other, it feels a little bit safer.”

During this River to River segment, Rowell talks with host Ben Kieffer about the center, how it got started, and the services and community it offers.

Larry Dingman, who directs a similar center that opened in Iowa City last week, also joins the conversation. Dingman says he's seen about 35 people through the doors so far.