LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – This is a cause aimed at improving the lives of veterans across the state. Veteran Villages of America is transforming a local elementary school into a one-stop-shop for veterans.
Col. Mike Ross, who is the head of the organization, says they have helped hundreds of veterans and plan to help many more across the state.
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Army veteran Col. Mike Ross says he remembers many veterans having problems after returning home.
“In 2004-2005, I was in Iraq and we lost 36 soldiers from our unit. We had over 350 battle-related injuries and then all of a sudden we went home thinking everything was fine, but we came home to a battlefield here at home,” Ross said.
Ross says the transition to the company can be painful for veterans.
“Within 6 months [of returning home] I had 5 suicides [from fellow veterans] and we have had many suicides since then. Ross adds, “when you go to war and you come back, you come back with a different person, you come back with different people.
That’s why he wants to create a place where veterans can successfully transition into society.
Ross says that by creating a comprehensive veterans care facility where many resources are available, he is helping hundreds of veterans and could help more.
“We have an 80,000 square foot facility,” Ross said.
Ross says their facility is at Franklin Elementary School in Little Rock, the school closed 5 years ago when the Little Rock School District closed at the end of last school year to reduce operating expenses . However, he now says they are making it a one-stop-shop full of resources for veterans.
“We have furniture that we donate to veterans. A lot of these veterans get their house 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 it’s all free for our veterans.
Ross says they also have legal resources to help veterans and plan to expand their efforts.
“I’m talking about a residential apartment for family living, a lot of veterans struggle to find housing,” Ross said.
But he says that to achieve that goal, he would need state financial assistance and federal funding.
“It’s probably going to be around $32 million and with the operational costs that go with that, we’re looking at federal and state funding,” Ross said.
But for now, he says what they’ve built is a healing process for veterans.
“While they’re here, all of a sudden they’re connecting with other veterans, veterans are doing well with other veterans,” Ross said.
If you would like to get involved or donate to this cause, you can go to www.VeteranVillagesofAmericainc.org.