A local Veterans of Foreign Wars organization is finally getting a home to call their own for the first time.

Members of VFW Post of Pharr, which also represents veterans from San Juan, Alamo and Edinburg, have just been handed the keys to their new home.

In the past, veterans would gather anywhere they could find space, like the Pharr Memorial Library. After years of fighting for a place to call their own, they’ve contracted with the city of Pharr to lease out a building for ten years at $1.00 a year.

“It’s a big blessing because we are a nonprofit organization; we depend on donations when we ask for donations at Walmart, different stores,” said VFW 10712 Post Commander Sgt. 1st Class Jesus Pineda. “It’s very important because now we have a home. In the past, we’ve been having meetings in different places, and now we’re able to have a centralized location in Pharr, San Juan, Alamo, Edinburg, and we’ll be able to have all our records in one building instead of having it in our houses.”

The veterans will spend their days fixing up an old restaurant in Pharr that has since closed down on Cage Avenue.  They plan on transforming the old Gridiron Burgers Restaurant into a post where they can host events, meetings and spend time with former war heroes.

“It’s hard to talk to somebody who has never really done what you’ve done, whether it be the army, marine core, air force, navy, or even the coast guard. We can relate to things and talk about things that bring us home,” said Pineda. “Civilians wouldn’t know that.” 

Along with the new building, the post also wants to add a Ladies Auxiliary section in hopes of welcoming women into the VFW, as well. Even though the building still needs some fixing up to do —like wiring, electricity, painting the walls and adding furniture— Sgt. Major Orlando Isquierdo, Senior Vice Commander for VFW Post 10712, tells CBS 4 News they couldn’t be happier.

“It is very important that now we can meet with the other veterans that we haven’t met in the past in a building that you can lay down your hat and say, ‘This is our home,'”said Isquierdo. “Everybody thinks freedom is free, but they earn it by the veterans that support and defend our country.” 

The veterans plan to have their next meeting at the new building sometime in April.

The city of Pharr and Pharr Economic Development Center are planning to help with the rebuilding.