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Miss-Lou leaders reach out to help homeless veterans

FERRIDAY — Homelessness among war veterans is a prevalent problem all throughout America, and Mississippi and Louisiana are no exception.

Area leaders are exploring ways to help those who have been unable to find a shelter.

“There is no sense in someone putting their life on the line to serve their country and then coming home and not have a place to live,” Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin said.

McGlothin said Ferriday, Vidalia and Natchez are working with the Veterans Administration to help provide shelters for homeless veterans.

“The VA has a plan to end homelessness for American veterans,” he said. “They are looking for areas to put new shelters because the old ones are getting to full, and we would be glad to have one in the Miss-Lou.”

McGlothin said he is working on turning in a Grant and Per Diem Program application to help establish a new shelter in Ferriday.

“It is in the preliminary stages as of right now,” he said. “This whole process will take around four to five years to complete, but we are trying to streamline it.”

McGlothin said there are several things that must be done before starting a shelter, including starting an education program, a substance abuse program and an employment program.

“Many veterans have addictions, and there has to be a treatment program for them,” he said. “Many of them don’t have jobs, so the education and employment programs are meant to help keep veterans off the street.”

McGlothin said Riverland Medical Center has 36 vacant acres behind the hospital, and that he is working with RMC to try and get some of the land to house the shelter.

“We want to build a complete place with an education center, a clinic and an area for them to exercise,” he said. “But like I said, we are just trying to get all of our ducks in a row before we start talking about building a shelter.”

McGlothin said costs at the shelter will be paid through the grant, with 30 percent of the money coming from the veterans VA money.

McGlothin said the majority of the homeless veterans Ferriday would receive would come from Alexandria.

“When Alexandria gets full, they send veterans to the Hattiesburg shelter,” he said. “We are trying to alleviate that problem. Some of them may not be from Hattiesburg and would want to stay in the area. We are just trying to offer them help.”

McGlothin said that while he knows there are not many VA shelters in rural areas, he hopes to get the grant in order to help a group of people who risked their lives for their country.

“We know that there are homeless veterans out there, and that we have many around here,” he said. “We just want them to have a place to stay.”

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