From: Spotlight News
Written by: Emily Drew
COLONIE — Plans for veteran housing at the former Ann Lee Nursing Home are moving forward as environmental impact and traffic studies are being conducted.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy provided an update to the town board at its Thursday, July 9, meeting on the Soldier On project near the Shaker Heritage Society that would provide affordable housing and on-site support to veterans. McCoy said construction should hopefully begin in October.
Soldier On is a non-profit organization that works with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other departments to provide veterans housing and support in a community environment. Soldier On has been working since 2012 to transform the former Ann Lee Nursing Home at 55 Heritage Lane, across from Albany International Airport.
Currently, the project is undergoing environmental review and traffic studies. According to McCoy, the housing plans needed to be further away from nearby wetlands before building could begin.
An old road will be reopened so the Soldier On campus and Shaker Heritage Society will have separate entrance and exit points.
When completed, the nursing home and an addition will hold over 100 apartments for veterans. Resources like financial assistance and psychiatric care, along with other community-based resources, will be available on the campus.
“It’s run solely by veterans,” said McCoy. “Soldier On starts it. They fund it for the veterans to get them back off the streets.”
McCoy said Soldier On’s goal is to reduce homelessness among returning veterans, both men and women. The organization encourages homeless veterans to get treatment. A veteran might be brought to the campus, given food and any resources needed, but is not forced to stay.
The organization provides the housing for veterans, along with financial assistance to buy apartments, so a veteran can gain back independence. The apartment can then only be sold back to Soldier On, or to other veterans.
“The nice part of the program is it offers continued services for soldiers coming back in a transition state, coming back into a civilian life. There are a number of services required when they get back to help them get through that first stage, where eventually the goal is ownership of their own town home that they’ve purchased,” said Town Supervisor Paula Mahan.
Young veterans who return and wish to go to college will also be given assistance in taking classes at several universities around the Capital District, but without the pressure of living in a dorm with peers.
“A lot of these young soldiers can’t transition back into college. They can’t be in a dorm room with their own peers. They just have different adjustments. They’ve been at war,” said McCoy.
The returning soldiers will be able to have a dorm room-like setting, but with people who have had the same experiences.
For more information on Soldier On, go to www.wesoldieron.com.