NBC 12 has a first look at a brand new initiative designed to help veterans in Central Virginia rebuild their lives. Right now, non-profit organization Pathways to Success offers emergency housing for the homeless in our area, but next week - thanks to help from the state, the program will expand to include veterans who need assistance.
Organizers say one too many phone calls are coming in from people who have served our country now needing help and they say, it's time to make sure our veterans know their service isn't forgotten.
Army veteran Anthony Bonner recalls serving in South Korea in the mid 80's.
"We were doing a night maneuver and we got caught off by a North Korean squad," he said.
Bonner made it out, but one of his fellow soldiers died. Following his service, Bonner hit hard times - even experimenting with drugs.
"When you serve your country and you're away, when you come back home it's hard to adjust to life out here especially if you've been in a war zone," Bonner said.
It's why Pathways to Success is stepping up offering housing and job skills training.
"Being able to re-train them to help them get back into the job market," Lisa Monroe with Pathways said.
The program already serves non-veterans like Lenzy Jones.
"I never knew I would wind up homeless or have nowhere to turn to or sleep in my truck," Jones said.
He says in the five months he's been here, he's made a 180, even finding a new job.
"I work hard all day, I come home and I have my own apartment," Jones said.
Now, in partnership with the Department of Corrections, the initiative will expand to help up to 150 homeless veterans - even those who are being released from prison. The first vet in this new partnership moves in Monday.
"By the time they leave our program they should go from being homeless all the way to being a homeowner," Monroe said.
Bonner believes the extra attention has truly helped him grow.
"In the process of growing, you turn around and you get better," he said.
"The veterans have served our country and now we need to serve them," Monroe added.
If you want to learn more about the non-profit that launched this project, or to donate to the cause, you can its website.
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