Pritzker Military Library offers history and hope for veterans - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Pritzker Military Library offers history and hope for veterans

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Homelessness remains a big problem facing Chicago and the state of Illinois, particularly for military veterans. The Pritzker Military Library is doing its part to stop the trend.

The library was founded by retired colonel J.M. Pritzker in 2003. It spans 40,000 square feet, and three floors of the historic and beautiful Monroe Building. Pritzker assembled a major collection of books and related materials on military history, with a focus on the citizen soldier.

The library is dedicated to promoting an open public forum to discuss and debate, the past, present and future of the military.

"Our oldest book is the history of the Low Country Wars from 1650, translated from Latin to old English," president and CEO Ken Clark said. "That's the copy we have."

But Clark said that is just the beginning. In the ten years since its inception, they have amassed 700 items: Books, objects and artifacts.

They include a flag from the Spanish-American War from 1898, a rare book collection - including a series of books written by Captain James Cook from the 1770s on his travels to Hawaii and the South Seas – and even hand written notes that date back to the Civil War.

"We have a militia man's notebook from 1777," Cleark said. "He was a New Hampshire guy that wrote about how the food was horrible and the weather was horrible. The same type of thing you get from people in any conflict. They pretty much talk about the same things."

But as to what the most important aspects of what the Pritzker Military Library is and can offer today's veteran, Clark hears the same thing over and over:

"Jobs are a big challenge," Clark said. "The other thing we hear is that it's hard to navigate the sea of goodwill that is out there, for our veterans returning home. There are a lot of places offering services, but it's hard to figure out what is what and who is who."

The Pritzker Military Library is located at 104 S. Michigan Avenue.

FOX 32 News will tackle that issue and others affecting veterans in a live web special on Thursday. The webcast will air live from the Pritzker Military Library from 2–5 p.m.

WATCH HERE from 2-5 PM: Picture This - Ending Homelessness Among Veterans in Chicago Webcast

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