LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It’s a cause set out to improve the lives of veterans across the state. The organization Veteran Villages of America is transforming a local elementary school into a one stop shop for veterans.
Colonel Mike Ross who is the leader of the organization, says they’ve helped hundreds of veterans and plan to help many more across the state.
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Army veteran Colonel Mike Ross says he remembers a lot of veterans having trouble after coming home.
“In 2004-2005 I was in Iraq, and we lost 36 soldiers out of our unit. We had over 350 combat related wounds and then all of a sudden, we got back home thinking everything was great, but we came home to a battlefield here at the house,” said Ross.
Ross says the transition back into society can be strenuous on veterans.
“Within 6 months [of returning home] I had 5 suicides [from fellow veterans] and we’ve had numerous suicides since then.” Ross adds, “when you go off to war and you comeback, you comeback a different person, you come back to different people
Which is why he wants to create a place where veterans can successfully transition into society.
Ross says by creating an entire veteran care facility where numerous resources are available it is helping hundreds of veterans and could help more.
“We have an 80 thousand square foot facility,” said Ross.
Ross says their facility is at Franklin Elementary school in Little Rock, the school closed down 5 years ago when the Little Rock School District shut down at the end of the last school year to cut operating expenses. However, he says now they are making it into a one stop shop full of resources for veterans.
“We have furniture that we give to the veterans. A lot of these veterans get their homes and the only thing they get is a bed.” Ross goes on to say, “we also have men’s clothing and women’s clothing, and everything is free for our veterans
Ross says they also have legal resources to help veterans and they are planning on expanding their efforts.
“I’m talking about a residential apartment for family living, a lot of veterans are having trouble finding places to live,” said Ross.
But he says to accomplish that goal he would need financial help from the state and federal funding.
“It’s probably going to be around $32 million dollars and have the operational cost that go with it, we’re seeking federal and state funding ,” said Ross.
But for now, he says what they have built is a healing process for veterans.
“While they’re here all of a sudden they connect with other veterans, veterans do well with other veterans,” said Ross.
If you would like to get involved or donate for that cause you can go to www.VeteranVillagesofAmericainc.org.