Local Veterans Center Planning Open House

The Wheeling Vet Center, 1058 E. Bethlehem Blvd., Bethlehem, is preparing for its annual open house – an event meant to give veterans the opportunity to talk about their war experiences with each other and to learn about government benefits.

The open house is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 12 at the center.

Michael Novotney, readjustment counseling technician, said veterans also can learn about job opportunities and the Wounded Warrior Program. And new this year, the Wheeling Healing Arts Studio will offer veterans free massages.

“We’re excited about that. We think it will draw more veterans up here,” he said.

Novotney said it is important for veterans to learn how to relax, and receiving a therapeutic massage can help in that regard. He said he recently went to a chiropractor for his back, and it has helped him a lot. Deployments put a lot of stress on one’s body, he added.

“You’ve got to relieve the stress and tension,” he said.

The open house also will offer grilled food and pizza. Veterans also can play bean bag toss. Novotney hopes at least 30 veterans will show up during the open house, but said last year’s count was 50 people.

“It’s a safe place for them to interact and relax. … They can share the stories they’ve been holding in,” Novotney said. “They can come and see what we do and say ‘hello.'”

Novotney, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army paratrooper, said the biggest issues that continue to impact local veterans are homelessness, unemployment and a lack of transportation.