Dan West, a local man with non-combat service in the U.S. Army, recently told the Decatur County Commissioners about his plans to open up a center that would provide support services to veterans from this area of Southwest Georgia.
West said he had spent a lot of time helping veterans in Tallahassee, Fla., but realized something was needed in South Georgia. He said there are approximately 2,400 registered veterans in Decatur County.
“I have a desire to help other veterans, who make the ultimate sacrifice to go overseas to fight for our freedoms,” West said. “They need and deserve our support when they return home.
One of the biggest needs is support services for people diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD), who have trouble readjusting to American society after spending time in a combat environment, such as Iraq or Afghanistan.
West said he plans to organize a support meeting for veterans and have a licensed therapist present to moderate the meetings. To this end, West and other organizers have began the process of locating a meeting space for the veterans’ support meetings. Right now, they have received tentative permission to meet in an accessory building on the site of the former Bainbridge GED center on Evans Street, which is currently being used by Memorial Hospital.
Some of the other services West and his fellow organizers hope to provide include a library, entertainment center and a snack area.
“The library and entertainment center will be stocked with materials that are veteran-friendly and not upsetting,” West said. “We hope to have some card and pool tables and make it a place where veterans can gather and talk or spend time with other veterans who may have went through the same things.”
West also wants to provide a veterans’ transport center, to take local veterans from SW GA to medical appointments at the VA health clinic in Tallahassee, Fla. In the future, West would also like to see the creation of temporary housing for veterans who are homeless or are recently released from a veterans’ hospital.
West said the veterans’ center has already gained support from local businesses, but to help raise more money for the center’s creation, a benefit music festival has been planned.
Music Fest 229 will be held Saturday, May 30, from noon to midnight, at the Bikefest grounds on Pondtown Road. While the Bikefest organizers were gracious enough to lend the use of their property, West stressed that the music festival was not a “biker” event. The eight regional bands performing at Music Fest 229 are playing for either gas money or no fee at all, West said. 85 percent of the event’s proceeds will go toward the veterans’ center, while 15 percent of the proceeds will go towards a donation to the Red Hills Wounded Warrior organization, and a small “thank you” donation will be returned to Bikefest.
You can learn more about Music Fest 229 by clicking on the flyer below.
Georgia VA hospitals among worst for longest waits (Athens Banner-Herald)