Veterans Education and Training Center (VET-C)
(sub-title Veterans Internet Café)

Veterans Education and Training Center (VET-C) (sub title Veterans Internet Café)
The American Legion Department of Colorado has the opportunity to make history in our never-ending quest to assist veterans and their families to readjust to life after their military service.
   
The mission has not changed. In our 89 years of service to veterans we have always looked first to improving the lives of those affected by their honorable service to their country. The American Legion was forward thinking in 1930 when we sponsored the idea of a government-clearing house for managing veterans affairs, which we now know today as the Veterans Administration. In 1946 The American Legion took the lead again in sponsoring legislation before congress to provide benefits to veterans returning from WWII, now known as the GI Bill. Time after time in our history The American Legion has stepped forward with forward thinking ideas that addressed the needs of veterans at a time when new ideas were needed.
   
Our current returning veterans are facing challenges presented as a result of the fast changing face of world events and a global economy. But as changes are occurring all around us some things have not changed. The need for top-notch medical care for our wounded and disabled veterans is still there. The need for top-notch educational benefits for veterans is still there. The need for a veteran to re-enter society and provide for a family with the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter is still there. The American Legion continues to address these needs even as circumstances are changing around us.
   
So that is where we are today. Looking for ways and means to continue to serve all of these needs. That is where the American Legion Department of Colorado can make history, and will with your help.
   
The latest journey for innovation began a few years ago when we lost a tenant in our building that was involved in the computer ISP business. We faced significant challenges in converting that vacant space into something else.
   
As a number of Legionnaires sat around our conference room the brilliant idea emerged that we needed an “Internet Café” as a place for veterans to gather, communicate and learn, and this space would be an ideal space to do that, since much of the infrastructure was already in place. 

As always happens, those initial discussions continued to evolve and improve and migrate to action.
   
The first step in putting together this center was to evaluate the need for such center. That was a no brainier. Although Internet Cafes exist in coffee shops, libraries, airports, universities, hotels and a host of other unique installations, nowhere was there a center devoted exclusively to veterans to learn and utilize the capabilities of the computer world and the Internet.
   
The second step was to discover the resources needed to make the center a reality. We determined that the financial resources necessary to purchase the computers, software, furniture and Internet access would be over $60,000 if purchased on the open market. We applied for a grant from the tobacco trust fund grant program but were denied because, in their opinion, these services were already available to veterans. So the process continued to evolve.
   
As luck would have it, we got a call from a company that was liquidating the computer related equipment from the former Heritage Bank. At no cost to us we secured 10 Dell Optiplex 620 computers with all related hardware and OS software and a couple of printers. Soon after that we received word that IBM was making available computer desks and chairs to non-profit organizations. We were able to pick up the necessary desks and chairs and a couple of filing cabinets for the Center.
   
The Department Finance Committee approved a contract with Data 393 for us to purchase Internet access with our own dedicated servers at their facility in the Denver Tech Center. We already had the T1 line available at Department with our phone company provider.

So with the Internet connection in place, the computers up and running and the space in our building remodeled for the center we are almost ready to “go live.”

Our final piece of the puzzle is software packages. We have contacted Adobe andasked for free software for this center. We have contacted Microsoft and asked forfree software. Both have said that they think we have a great idea but since weare a 501 (C) (19) organization and not a 501 (C) (3) they cannot give us thesoftware directly but they can sell it to us at a substantially discounted price.

We run into the same scenario when we ask private corporations for donations. Mostof them cannot donate to a 501 (C) (19) organization because of the tax laws.

So here is where we need your help. We have determined that the discountedsoftware packages will amount to $1,000.00 per computer. This includes thecomplete Adobe CS3 package with Flash, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dream Weaver and Acrobat Professional 8 and Microsoft Office Professional with Excel, Word, Access, Power Point, Office Accounting Outlook and Publisher.

For your donation of $1,000 we will “endow” a seat in this first of a kind Veterans Computer Education and Internet Training Center. We will permanently markthe computer station with you name and post number. We will annotate the openingcomputer splash screen with your name and post number and we will give you crediton a specially designed cornerstone plaque to forever identify your contributionto this innovative, first of its kind, history making event to continue our stellar service to veterans.

Although this plea is made to our American Legion Posts, as an individual you canstill get involved. We will accept donations from individuals, groups of individuals or Auxiliary units or SAL squadrons. Any amount will be acceptable and all amounts will be acknowledged in the Center.  The bottom line is that we are onthe cutting edge and “time is a wasting.”

Make your check payable to American Legion Department of Colorado, earmarked forthe Veterans Training Center and mail to Department Headquarters. We willacknowledge your contribution. Thanks for you continued support. We look forward to your generous contribution.