Jul. 3—CUMBERLAND — The Battery Atlanta on Thursday celebrated the opening of a veterans service center that The Atlanta Braves and others hope will serve as a hub for veteran services in metro Atlanta.
The event attracted county leaders, from Cobb Chamber president and CEO Sharon Mason to former and sitting county commissioners and law enforcement leaders.
The Warrior Alliance Home Base at The Battery Atlanta, an about 4,000-square-foot space near The Coca-Cola Roxy performance venue, was born out of a partnership between The Atlanta Braves Foundation and The Warrior Alliance, an organization that connects veterans to services they need to make a seamless transition back to civilian life.
The new "home base" includes conference rooms, computer rooms, private meeting rooms and other spaces meant to attract veterans who need assistance or connection to services for mental health, employment, housing, volunteerism and more.
The center also provides opportunities for active-duty service members, veterans and their families to participate in military appreciation events, community partner programs and education and training seminars, according to a news release.
Scott Johnson, president and CEO of The Warrior Alliance, gave media tours on Thursday afternoon and told the MDJ, even though the space is inviting, it's not just a "hangout spot."
"The Battery's all about action and activity and getting involved and starting to turn your life around. We want them to come in here for a purpose, and it's not to hang out. It's to work on their transition," Johnson said. "They may have been out for 40 years and they're still trying to find their north star. That's what this is for."
The center's location in Cumberland is ideal to serve the metro area's more than 250,000 veterans and Georgia's 750,000, according to the partnership's leaders. And the timing is ideal too, according to The Braves. Many veterans are facing housing, financial, health and employment issues as a result of the pandemic, its news release says.
In his remarks during the ribbon cutting, Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden, adjutant general of the Georgia Department of Defense, agreed.
"I've been doing this now a little over 35 years, and I've been shot at on more than one continent, and I'm not scared of much anymore," Carden said. "But if you were to ask me what I'm most afraid of, it's the day that I have to put this uniform in the closet. The day that I can't do this anymore. The day that a veteran wakes up, and he or she might have some question as to, 'What is my purpose going to be today?'"
Organizations that show veterans that they still have a purpose after their military service deserve many thanks, he said. The military does its best, Carden said, to help veterans transition out of service, but "we're not very good at it."
"We're good at what we do, but ... we're not very good at what happens on the other side of this uniform," he said. "And the gap that you all are filling, the gap that you're standing in for us, for our service members, it is significant."
The Warrior Alliance Home Base at The Battery Atlanta is one of three legacy projects planned for 2021, said Danielle Bedasse, executive director of The Atlanta Braves Foundation.
Bedasse said The Braves wanted to make community capital investments "that would really support and bring to life the programming and projects for our community partner" in three areas: youth baseball, The Boys & Girls Club and the military community.
When they found Scott Johnson and The Warrior Alliance, Bedasse said, "the visions aligned."
"And we're just thrilled to be able to open the home base here," she said. "We're excited to be able to welcome our military community."
Derek Schiller, Braves president and CEO, called the new veteran hub an "unbelievable and impactful project" and said the ribbon cutting held a different kind of weight than the usual restaurant or store opening at The Battery.
"This is something much bigger and certainly much more important," he said. "We know with The Warrior Alliance having this location, they're going to be able to serve and do things for the men and women who have served in our country and worn the uniform."
Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.