HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Saving Forgotten Warriors (SFW) on Friday morning cut the ribbon on a house along Hopewell Street in Hanceville that will serve as a veterans transitional home, housing up to 12 veterans who are struggling but working to make the move back to civilian life.
One half of the duplex is scheduled to open with four residents by Aug. 1. The other side should open to another four within two months after that. A coming addition to the back of the house will enable it to hold four more, for a total of 12 veterans who will be working on getting an education or finding jobs that will allow them to live independently.
SFW Founder/Director Jeremy Hogan told the crowd of local officials and supporters, “We’re bringing something to Hanceville and Cullman County that north Alabama needs- I think all of Alabama needs, really, to be honest with you. I don’t know very many houses in Alabama that’ll house veterans that are actually doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
When SFW started four years ago, according to Hogan, “Immediately, I wanted to find housing for veterans; 457 veterans are homeless at any given time in the state of Alabama. Fifty percent of those that are housed are on the verge of being homeless. That’s unspeakable when you think about how many veterans we have in Alabama, 386,000 or something like that. That’s ridiculous. It’s our responsibility to help those men and women find that dream they fought for.”
One piece of a bigger plan
The transitional home in Hanceville represents the initial phase of a much larger project that Hogan hopes to see come to pass in Cullman County: a multi-campus veterans transition program that will get veterans from across the state off the streets, provide them training in occupational and life skills and give them a foundation point from which they can successfully transition back into civilian life. The transitional program will last for up to 2.5 years with another 2.5 years of ongoing support, for a total of up to five years of assistance.
The plan includes:
- a 120-bed facility that will provide initial services like life skills, education and occupational training through partnerships with entities like Wallace State Community College, and addiction recovery for those who need it. The facility is intended to become self-sustaining, maintained largely by the residents themselves.
- short-term transitional homes: one for men and the other for women
- long-term apartments near the transitional homes where vets can live for 2.5 years after completing the residential program
In a previous interview, Hogan said of the issue of veteran homelessness and his plan to combat it, “I really, truly believe that, if they come out and have the proper educational training and prior training to transitioning back to civilian life, that we can take a huge chunk out of that problem, and change a lot of what happens right now.”
Hogan hopes that, if the program proves successful for veterans, it can become the pattern for other programs serving the entire spectrum of America’s homeless.
Said Hogan, “If we can nail this down and get this program going right, we could pretty much make this a cookie cutter program and do it for any homeless person whatsoever. I’ve done it on the ‘cheapest/best quality’ aspect, if you will. I’m trying to come up with the best-case scenarios and the best course of action with the least amount of economic impact, cost-wise, for us to do it. And this right here is it. If I can do this right here- we get this up and running and it’s successful for a year or two- then I would like to present it as a complete homeless program, not just for veterans, because there is a lot in this program that you can learn, even not being a veteran. It benefits, anyway.”
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