The Portland office of Veterans Affairs broke ground on new housing for homeless veterans at its Vancouver campus in July. It's slated to be completed June 2016.

The Portland office of Veterans Affairs broke ground on new housing for homeless veterans at its Vancouver campus in July. It’s slated to be completed June 2016.

Conrad Wilson/OPB

A band belted out patriotic tunes Thursday ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony for a new homeless veterans’ housing center on the Vancouver, Washington campus of Portland office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

James Mead, who said he spent 24 years in the Navy, is the commander for the Korean War Veterans of southwest Washington. He said the 50-unit apartment building will take a lot of veterans off the streets.

“It’s going to lift up the spirits of the veterans,” he said.

The VA has made ending homelessness among veterans a priority.

Joanne Krumberger, director of the Portland VA Health Care System, called the new apartment building a “miracle.”

“Think about how many people who would’ve had to lay their heads down on the cement and they’re going to be able to lie their heads down in an apartment building,” she said.

Crews have already started construction. The facility will have studio and one-bedroom apartments, and is scheduled to open June 2016.