Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Breaking ground on a new kind of gathering place for veterans in Minneapolis


Shari Gross •

Jessi and Tom McKenna, co-founders of Every Third Saturday, and Jon Engfer, program director, stood on the corner of what will become the new headquarters building in Minneapolis near the VA Health Care System.

When he's working with homeless or struggling military veterans at his Minneapolis nonprofit, Every Third Saturday, there's a phrase Tom McKenna uses often. That phrase is "lethal absence of hope." It was coined by a Los Angeles priest who works with former gang members, and it is exactly what McKenna wants these veterans to avoid.

"That's where suicide occurs - when there's nothing left and you have no hope," said McKenna, himself a Marine Corps veteran who has struggled with addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in the military. "If you're on the street, you may not have had a shower for a few days. You may not have a change of clothes. You may not have shaved. And you start to feel like you look. We don't want that."

If there's a message that emanates from the architectural renderings of Every Third Saturday's new headquarters near the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, it is this: There is still hope, and that hope can be found inside, where veterans can be with their own tribe. McKenna hopes to create a welcoming, alcohol-free gathering place for the modern-day veteran, trying to form communities similar to those in American Legion or VFW posts.


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