Center to assist veterans opening soon in Vicksburg

Published 6:08 pm Saturday, April 14, 2018

Vicksburg residents will get the opportunity the first weekend in May to visit and tour the Vicksburg Warren Veterans Transition Center, said Eva Ford, president of the nine-member board that will manage the center.

“I have some things I still need to do, like changing and moving stuff,” she said. “I need to put the beds up and dress them up; I have the stuff together, but I just don’t have it up yet. I had to do some painting on the walls and change the whole structure of the building.”

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The idea for the center came in 2015 during a discussion between Ford, a retired nurse practitioner with the Veterans Administration, and a young veteran about his experience and how little help veterans receive after they are discharged.

The center is geared for recently discharged veterans to help them readjust to civilian life, and the board hopes to provide counseling for the veterans when needed. Warren-Yazoo Mental Health has agreed to work with the shelter, and retired teachers will come to the shelter to help veterans prepare to seek jobs by helping them with courses like math and English.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen April 2 approved a $10,000 donation to the center.

“I was most grateful for that, because it’s not about me, it’s about our veterans,” Ford said. “I wanted to preserve it so long after I’m gone and resting in peace with the Lord; I want it to still be here for the veterans to live on, because they deserve it.”

The center is located on a 2.5-acre tract at 1701 Court St. that was donated by Atwood Chevrolet.

Ford said the building’s interior had to be modified for its new role.

“Originally, the inside was just like one big hall like a schoolroom, so I broke it down, where there would be a dining room, bedrooms and a kitchen,” she said. “I have offices and bathrooms, and I had to break those down, too, because I may have someone who is disabled and I had to change the way the bathrooms were.

“This is long past due, we should have had one a long time ago, but I guess later is better than nothing.”

She said it makes her feel good to know that she’s had support from the community and different people who have tried to help out, “Even if it was nothing more than to help me cut the grass or help me keep the paint going; they were doing something at some point in time to help me.

“That made me feel good that I wasn’t alone. That God had planted somebody in my path to help me do some of the things I wanted to do for the benefit of our veterans.”

Presently, Ford said, the building’s interior is being painted and getting ready to move furniture into the building.

“We’re winding down,” she said, adding the ice storm that hit the area during the winter slowed progress on the work because water pipes ruptured, coating the floor with ice.

“I had faith,” she said when she recalled the project’s early stages. “This was something the Lord wanted me to do, or he never would have made it possible for me to have this building.”

She said the donation of the land occurred because someone overheard her discussions about the center.

“I feel blessed all the way to be able to do this for our veterans, and I love doing things for our veterans, because they do so much for us,” Ford said. “I never stopped taking care of our veterans, even after I retired, I still do things for them, and I enjoy every minute of it.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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