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|Vet addresses need for veteran center|
If anyone had any doubts about the impact a Veteran's Health and Resource Center would have in the Miss-Lou, they were quashed after listening to Wilfred Gallien Jr. at the Concordia Parish Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday at the Bryant O. Hammett Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.
Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial Development District Executive Director Heather Malone said leaders from both Mississippi and Louisiana are applying for federal grants to start the Miss-Lou Veteran's Health and Resource Center.
"There is a group in the Miss-Lou that has been meeting for the past four to five months," she said. "Our initial focus is to provide transitional housing program for the veterans. The closest one right now is 100 miles away."
Riverland Medical Center donated land next to its hospital for the center, which will be a 20-bed facility. Malone has applied for capital and per diem grants from the Veteran's Administration.
"Per diem grants would give us money each day per veteran we house," she said.
Malone said the group has traveled and viewed other veteran's centers to see how things are run.
"We got some really good ideas from them," she said. "We need letters of support from everybody in the community and businesses to post any job openings they may have."
Louisiana Works and the Mississippi State Employment Service were represented at the chamber meeting.
Malone said there are 130,000 homeless veterans nationally on average.
Gallien battled alcohol and drug addiction for 16 years without a home before finding help through a shelter similar to the proposed one in Ferriday. He began substance abuse treatment at the age of 19, entering a 30-day program in a hospital where he tried to commit suicide.
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