Veterans chat over pancakes

While Veterans Day seemed like any other Tuesday for most, a few individuals stopped to remember the people the day was set aside for, with pancakes.

On Tuesday morning, a group of 35 New Haven community members gathered at The Graduate Club for a Community Breakfast, a monthly forum started eight years ago by the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund, a nonprofit organization established to develop affordable living in the area.

At the breakfast, Walter Tuminski, a formerly homeless Vietnam veteran, and Preston Maynard, the head of the homeless services program at the Veterans Administration’s Errera Community Care Center in West Haven, addressed issues facing local veterans.

Maynard said veterans represent up to 25 percent of Connecticut’s homeless population. Maynard emphasized what he saw as the injustice of returning from service into an indifferent society. He also said more women are showing up at the Errera, including one who is eight months pregnant and who had been previously sleeping on a friend’s couch.

Fund Director Carla Weil said the breakfasts are assigned topics that respond to concerns voiced by community members.

“We try to solicit ideas from the people about what they want to have the forums on,” said Weil. “ We want to cover what they want to know about. We’ve done forums on things like eminent domain, sustainable building and transit ordinance.”

Weil said some attendees are part of a core group who show up every month, while others attend based on their interest.

One regular attendee, Dr. Steve Sawyers, a radiologist and an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University, said enjoys sharing his ideas at the breakfasts but that he would like to see more discussions on education and energy.

The breakfasts, sponsored by TD Banknorth, are free and open to the public, with an RSVP.

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