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"Focus On Homelessness" Part 1 - Homeless Veterans

The Northeast Louisiana Veterans Association is doing more than rebuilding a facility. They’re trying to rebuild lives. Medical experts say military homelessness is connected with deeper wounds often associated with war.
Dr. Clyde Elliott is partnering with NELVA to help veterans struggling with PTSD. (Felicia Bolton)
Dr. Clyde Elliott is partnering with NELVA to help veterans struggling with PTSD. (Felicia Bolton)

BASTROP, Louisiana - According to the Alliance to End Homelessness, 1 in every 4 people living on the streets is a veteran.

The North East Louisiana Veterans Association is doing more than rebuilding a facility; they’re trying to rebuild lives. Medical experts say military homelessness is connected with deeper wounds often associated with war.

The broken building marked with graffiti, deeply damaged and scared…will soon bring healing to homeless veterans in North East Louisiana.

“In the 12 parishes that we have comprised in North East Louisiana, does [sic] not have a facility [for homeless veterans & mental care].  We will not fail in having this one complete,” said Stewart Bashner, volunteer with NELVA.

But down each hall and everywhere you turn, there’s a major problem. The “Fort Hero Veterans Barracks” is far from complete.

“[There’s] no electricity, we don’t have air conditioning and heating,” said Bashner.

Thieves stole copper, air conditioners and insulation from the building.  Now the North East Louisiana Veterans Association and a crew of volunteers are struggling to repair the damage.

 “It’s a challenge… but no greater challenge than our military people have when they were sent overseas. Our challenge is not nearly as great as theirs is. It’s a challenge we can not fail at,” said Bashner.

They want to do more than provide a place live. The 48 room facility will be a source of rehabilitation for many homeless vets returning to the civilian world.

A team of doctors and therapists will work together to heal the deeper wounds connected with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“The best treatment in the world is group therapy and that’s where the veterans’ home up in Bastrop will come into play,” said Dr. Clyde Elliott with the St. Francis Outpatient Clinic in West Monroe. “Because by the time we become a person who’s on the street and you don’t have a home…you’ve given up your family relationships, your immediate family, your wife, children, job. You’re totally isolated.”

Dr. Elliott said he understands why so many vets end up on the streets. Because he is vet and struggled with PTSD.

“I took a long time trying to adjust back to civilian life and normal life, as people here were seeing it. You don’t ever see it as it used to be. It’s totally different,” said Elliott.

Now this team is asking for our back up to help rebuild the facility our homeless vets will call home. NELVA reports that 160 veterans are homeless in our area as of today.  

The group is in need of electricians, plumbers, plumbing supplies and air conditioners. If you would like to help, you can call (318) 557 – 4767 or email NELVA President Al Sanders at alsanders.louisiana@yahoo.com . 

For more information on NELVA and the Fort Hero Veterans Barracks, click here http://fortheroveteransbarracks.org/forthero_002.htm .  

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