PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - A non-profit in Charlotte County is helping veterans get back on their feet. The Jewish Family and Children Services of the Suncoast is based in Sarasota and Monday they opened their Punta Gorda office.
"This is exactly what I want to do you know turn around and help some of the veterans because I had first hand experience," says Michelle Hammond.
Army veteran Michelle Hammond served overseas for almost four years. She says when she got back to the states, the transition was tough. Hammond is not alone.
"They faced challenges that are a little bit different especially with ptsd or with certain reintegration it's not that easy to go back from a military life style into civilian lifestyle," she says.
That can often lead to homelessness.
"Most serious kinds of cases are with people who are homeless now, they do not have a permanent residents of their own they are living in tents under bridges in homeless camps," says Chip Taylor, Director of Veterans Affairs with JFCS.
But now, thanks to Jewish Family and Children Services' expansion to Charlotte County, the organization hopes to combat that and put a dent in the homeless veterans population here.
"What we're able to do is to get them into rental housing, pay the security deposits for rent and for utilities to get them started... beyond that the folks have to become sustainable on their own," Taylor adds.
The organization was able to expand to Charlotte County thanks to a federal grant. That monwy will be used to serve Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties. The non-profit hopes to serve about 75 veterans in Charlotte county in their first year.
They will also work with veterans to find jobs by partnering with organizations like the Goodwill and Southwest Florida Works.
The non-profit is located at 514 East Grace Street in Punta Gorda.