In 2015, the City of Gilbert partnered with the nonprofit organization Operation Welcome Home AZ to build a memorial park and resource center for veterans. After failing to raise the $3 million needed to construct the park, the two groups announced that they would end their partnership.
Operation Welcome Home AZ was founded approximately six years ago “To honor veterans and their families by sponsoring activities that express our support, pride, and patriotism,” stated azcentral.com. In 2014, the nonprofit organization began plans to construct a park to give the city a place for education, reflection, and honorary services. The park was originally slated to be completed by Veterans Day 2017. Operation Welcome Home began preparing the land for the park when it ran out of money to complete the project. Although Operation Welcome Home failed to contribute enough financially, the town of Gilbert succeeded, contributing over $1.6 million for the construction. I feel that Operation Welcome Home was a lost opportunity to provide space to honor veterans and assist them in their day-to-day life. In accordance with the IRS, Operation Welcome Home must turn its assets over to other nonprofit organizations, ideally one in association with veterans. Gilbert, which now has full ownership of the land, hopes to continue construction or repurpose it for another project.
In conclusion, Operation Welcome Home AZ was a poorly planned effort to honor American veterans. In the future, I hope that the Gilbert Town Council will use this site to create an enjoyable space for generations to come.
By: Ryan Roco
Photo Credits: https://hiddenheroes.org/