Bainbridge Veterans Center Vows to Rebuild After Arson

Honor House Veterans Center
Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-09 14:57:25-04

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WTXL) -- Dan West returned from a vacation in the Bahamas to find the center he helped manage in shambles.

"It was like Mike Tyson hit me right in the stomach," he said. "It totally knocked the wind out of me."

Bainbridge Public Safety says the Honor House Veterans Center was set on fire early Sunday morning. West says just about everything was damaged.

"It wasn't just a project. It was a labor of love for all of us," he said.

Dan's organization Honor Sentinel took over the building in late March. The center was funded by the community.

"We were within two weeks of opening the doors and within one week of having our insurance," West said.

The veterans center was able to use the building on South Evans Street, thanks to an agreement with the Decatur County Board of Education. But now the building is a total loss, the organization must start from scratch and find a new place to rebuild.

"It was a place to honor our veterans, and it's just amazing and dumbfounding as to why somebody would do that," West said.

West says local businesses and community members have rallied to help.

"We'll get it back up and going again, because the need for it hasn't went away. If anything else, it's us doing this that has raised a lot more awareness."

While much of the belongings in the center were destroyed, West found a flag that survived the fire. He says he hung it outside as a symbol of hope.

"The dream and the cause behind this building -- it's not gonna die," he said. "It's just going to continue, and it'll grow again. It'll flourish and it'll be better than it was this time."

Honor Sentinel has set up an online campaign to raise money for them to rebuild.

Bainbridge Public Safety continues to investigate the arson and is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Georgia Arson Control Hotline at 1-800-282-5804 or Bainbridge Public Safety at 229-248-2038.