Group requests Lincoln Hall for vet housing

By Alexander Chettiath

A military veteran organization is seeking to use Lincoln Hall as a living facility for disabled veterans attending NIU and retired military and police dogs that would otherwise be put down.

Save-A-Vet, a group that rescues retired military, police and other service animals and shelters them with disabled veterans, wants to reach an agreement with NIU to allow enrolled veterans and rescued dogs to live in Lincoln Hall rent free, said Danny Scheurer, Save-A-Vet founder and a disabled Army and Marine Corps veteran.

The plan to convert Lincoln Hall began about two years ago but talks with NIU have since halted, Scheurer said. NIU officials told the organization they are looking for alternative uses for Lincoln Hall such as office space, said James Johnson, finance professor and supporter of Save-A-Vet.

“If they don’t want to give us the property or give us a long-term lease on it then just say no,” Scheurer said. “We can’t get a straight answer.”

Eric Weldy, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, was not immediately available for comment.

“We appreciate the work of Save-A-Vet program and also the program’s desire for a location on campus. However, re-opening Lincoln Hall is a complex issue,” said NIU spokesman Paul Palian.

Save-A-Vet is also looking at other DeKalb locations including an old General Electric building on the outskirts of DeKalb and unused fraternity houses on Greek Row, but Lincoln Hall would be the best option because of its capacity to house 800 veterans and because of its proximity to NIU, Scheurer said.

“We want to get Lincoln Hall because it has been vacant for so long, it’s a beautiful structure and it doesn’t need as much work for us to use it than the school to use it,” Scheurer said. “It’s a win win.”

Save-A-Vet is not looking for funds from NIU for the project but plans to work through volunteers and contributions, some of whom have already expressed interest including unnamed celebrities, Home Depot and an elevator contract union, Johnson said.

“Save-A-Vet not only helps veterans but canines as well; two segments, which I think is great,” said Frank Lamar, second-year executive MBA student. “It is a great program with a great objective mission.”