norton vfw

The Norton VFW on Summer Street.

NORTON — A group has formed to bring housing for veterans to the Attleboro area.

Vets for Veteran Housing and Services, which now comprises just a few members of the Norton VFW, hopes to expand its membership and see housing built in Norton for homeless veterans.

It would be the first such housing in the Attleboro area.

The group is holding an informational meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Norton VFW at 38 Summer St.

Any veteran or area resident interested in helping in its grassroots project is urged to attend.

The housing is the idea of Herbert Suydan, a Norton resident and Vietnam veteran who has seen firsthand veterans with no place to call home.

Suydan has assisted at the Veterans Administration hospitals in Brockton and West Roxbury as well as at the New England Center and Home for Veterans in Boston that supports homeless veterans.

“They have no place to go,” Suydan said. “I know the need for veterans. I want to do something for them.”

It is estimated of the state’s 379,000 veterans, at least 978 are homeless or about ready to lose their homes, he said.

Norton veterans would have first crack at housing built in town.

“Probably the majority of veterans we’re going to end up taking in will be out of the Brockton/Taunton area,” Suydan said. “I don’t think Norton at this point has any veterans who are homeless.” But he added, “I’ve got a ton of people in town all for this.”

Suydan served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1972 in the Vietnam War as a combat medic, assigned to helicopters flying wounded soldiers out of the war zone to get medical treatment.

Suydan appeared last year before Norton selectmen to apprise them of his plans, and they were supportive, but plans have been moving at a slow pace as often is the case with such projects.

He first brought his mission to the local VFW, which supported it. After meeting with selectmen, he contacted state veterans’ representatives.

“They said they would help back me and other VFWs would,” Suydan said.

It is projected about five acres of land is needed, and a parcel Norton took for back taxes is being eyed.

The 5.5 acre site off Plain Street near Interstate 495 would need town meeting approval to be transferred to the group.

Suydan is also interested in other similar-sized parcels as backups.

He said he is looking at two other sites but didn’t want to disclose details. “We might have to purchase” land, he said.

Suydan has also been in contact with the New England Center and Home for Veterans.

“They want a partnership with us,” Suydan said. “It’s all contingent with us getting land. They will partner with us to help develop the property.”

Once land is secured, fundraising would kick into gear, with Suydan estimating several million dollars would be needed for construction of the housing.

“We have to start raising money. I need to get some volunteers to help,” Suydan said. “I am going to be branching out, sending letters out to businesses to get this program off the ground.”

State and federal grant money should also be available, he noted.

Fundraising plans are expected to be discussed at Tuesday’s gathering.

For more information, email Suydan at herb.suydan@comcast.net.

Stephen Peterson can be reached at 508-236-0377.

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