’It was a godsend:’ How the Salvation Army in Macon is helping local military veterans

Salvation Army expands veterans program to help more in need

Salvation Army Greater Macon officials talk about the expansion of their veterans program to benefit more people.
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Salvation Army Greater Macon officials talk about the expansion of their veterans program to benefit more people.

The Salvation Army of Greater Macon is helping to serve the veteran population in Middle Georgia by increasing services provided through their Veterans’ Program.

Services offered currently include job placement, sheltering homeless care, clinical counseling and additional services as needed. The program began in conjunction with Veterans Affairs in Dublin in January.

The facility, located on Broadway, currently holds 126 beds. 20 beds are dedicated to veterans in the Peyton-Anderson Men’s Residence, but the Salvation Army is looking to increase that number to 40. Because they can only service the veterans they can house, doubling the amount of beds will double the veterans treated.

The facility as a whole is very large, with a fully-functioning kitchen serving about 60 people three square meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is a community laundry room, and they have a vehicle donated by GEICO to transport veterans to appointments.

Development Director of the Salvation Army of Greater Macon PJ Sardoma said the expansion is in response to the growing problem of veteran homelessness.

“These are men that have served our country, sacrificed so much for us, and we have an opportunity to express our gratitude by offering services that are currently unavailable in the area,” Sardoma said.

The expansion of the Veterans Program is being funded through grants and donations.

Homeless veterans account for 8% of the total homeless population in the United States, Sardoma said. Other issues veterans face include post-traumatic stress disorder as experienced by six-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Hubert Lipscomb.

Since coming to the Salvation Army’s facility, Lipscomb said his quality of life has improved thanks to the services he receives. He previously lived in homelessness after experiencing PTSD, difficulties with gang members in his neighborhood and other violence in his community.

“In that darkness, the Salvation Army for me was that light,” Lipscomb said.

Tony Saxton, an 18-month veteran of the United States Air Force, also shows great appreciation for the staff and services of the Veterans’ Program.

“It was a godsend,” Saxton said.

More veterans like Saxton and Lipscomb will continue to be helped through the expanded services. Major Andrew Gilliam, Area Commander for the Salvation Army Greater Macon, said the project originated from a study on how to best serve the middle Georgia area. The organization saw that one of the biggest needs is veteran aid.

“The ultimate goal is to help veterans in any capacity that we can,” Gilliam said.

The Salvation Army’s Veterans Program welcomes all veterans who find themselves in need of assistance and hopes it will be a place for them to get the support they need.

“If you are a vet, and in need of help, we’re here for you,” said Veterans Case Manager Terence Thompson.

The Salvation Army of Greater Macon will begin its recovery and work-therapy program in phases to transition towards meeting the greater needs that veterans in the community face with transitioning back to civilian life, according to a press release.

The Salvation Army of Greater Macon has served Middle Georgia for 120 years. To learn more about the Veterans Program, visit their website.

Kenneth Lemoine is an intern for the Telegraph for Summer of 2019, courtesy of the Couric Fellowship Program at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism. He writes about anything interesting that is taking place in Macon and Central Georgia, and he loves sports being a die-hard Atlanta Braves fan. When he is not working, you can catch him playing MLB The Show, Madden NFL, NBA 2K, and other similar sports video games.