NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — “Born and raised in Norwich,” says Officer First Class Ryan Landry of the Norwich Police Department who knows his city well.

So, during a ride-along, this former Army sergeant, host of the Everlasting Veteran podcast, wants to show us a special place.

“We’re going to be heading-up to Veterans Rally Point,” he says, of the spacious, comprehensive center, a branch of Easterseals, just opened in 2021 to veterans, active-duty service members and their families.

“This is about having a communal feeling where we can come back together as a family that once was all together then got scattered,” says Kevin Brown, Advisory Board Member at Veterans Rally Point.

As well as being a place to gather, resources here are plentiful with on-site counseling services and therapeutic recreation like a gym.

“In this fitness center, we have some of the strength machines, we have a lot of the free weights on that side,” says Ron Welch, Vice President of Veterans Rally Point. “Our center piece is this climbing wall. It’s enough to challenge your body and mind a little bit.”

Welch, a retired brigadier-general, says 11,000 people have walked through these doors in the last year and a half.

He shows-off the pottery studio and wood shop.

“It’s kind of a therapeutic approach, right? Get your hands in the clay and mud it’s engaging your brain and your hands,” he says.

And this space – the only one of it’s kind in the state – will be used for an upcoming digital media program where Landry would like to establish a residency for Everlasting Veteran, giving visitors here the chance to share their stories.

“There’s a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood in the military that’s 24-7 and when you get out, it feels like it’s gone away but it’s just spread out more,” he says.

It’s all about making connections, improving mental health, understanding what a veteran has been through and what they need to move forward.

“Now it’s time to regroup. Let’s get together again, let’s build that community up,” says Landry.

Two other states – New Hampshire and Ohio – have followed the Veterans Rally Point model and are in the process of building comprehensive centers, as well.