The Rural Institute for Veterans Education and Research (RIVER) will officially open its new headquarters this Thursday on Tina Avenue in Missoula. River Education Director Jason Zentgraf, says the facility will be focusing on training veterans to help other veterans.

"A veteran who is struggling is much more likely to confide in a peer, they can better relate to, rather than a stranger, the problem is that most veterans lack the training needed to recognize and help those who are struggling or in crises," Zentgraf said. "RIVER is the Rural Institute for Veterans Education and Research and among our focus is to help train veterans  using evidence based programs on how to recognize and assist a fellow veteran who is struggling from physical mental or emotional distress."

Zentgraf says there are three classes available, including an eight week dog training course to help veterans train service dogs. The other two courses are twelve month programs.

"One of the courses is an outdoor recreational therapist," Zentgraf said. " It's to teach veterans or civilians alike, how to work with different group of individuals, we do have a focus on veterans themselves. The other course is to train Community Veteran Emergency Medical Technician's CVEMT's are more para-professionals, as they do have certifications and licenses that help them provide care for mental health, physical health and moral health."

The ribbon cutting for the new facility will occur at 11:30 a.m. this Thursday. Zentgraf says they are hoping for class sizes of around 35 veterans for their first year, but says the building can hold 100 students.