Non-profit formed by former VA employees, volunteers to aid returning soldiers

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Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 10:47 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Over the years if you’d enter the front doors of the Sioux Falls VA hospital, volunteer Grant Dorothy would often be there with a smile. When he heard of a new private program for Veterans, he knew it was time for a change.

“When I found out about what they were doing here, I said man, this is something that is desperately needed in the community,” said Dorothy.

As a Vietnam combat veteran, Grant Dorothy understands what it’s like to come back home.

“Everything is just chaotic and there’s no place where you feel like you can’t really settle and feel comfortable. You always feel out of place,” said Dorothy.

This new program will be individualized for each returning soldier.

Calm Waters, isn’t that a great name,” said Dorothy.

Krystal Lohff, once a VA employee in mental health and the homeless program talks about the future of Calm Waters.

“We’re focusing on building a veteran village and retreat center,” said Lohff.

They’re fundraising now, for a ten-acre county location for more than housing. A chow hall, rec area, garden and workshop would build relationships.

“Like the community first program is a really good approach for the veteran,” said Lohff.

Veterans have told her what it can feel like to come home after a tour.

“Feel like they’ve been picked up somewhere and dropped off in some foreign country and say, See you later. You know, best of luck to you.

The passion to create a welcoming, healing, and inspiring community is also shared by the President of the Board, Kristi Hay-Merfeld.

“The fundraising part is going to be reaching out to people who have the same mission who want the same things that we want to and bringing all of those people together,” said Hay-Merfeld.

The vision and determination is strong to build this location to welcome veterans.

“Being able to tell him like we got you don’t worry. We have you; people care. We want to give back now to you because you gave us so much,” said Hay-Merfeld.

Calm Waters is raising one million dollars to launch the program. They’ll also have a golf fundraiser in June.

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