"No veteran should be on the street," said Lawana Brown, housing director at the Wellspring. "In fact, I don't believe that anyone homeless should have to not have a choice to have a roof over their head."
The organization was selected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to offer the Homeless Providers Grant and the Per Diem Program in Northeast Louisiana. Officials say this is the first time a program like this has been offered in the area specifically for veterans.
In 2012, Veterans Affairs announced providing a $1.5 million federal grant to The Wellspring.
The money for the new program will help eligible veterans -- with or without families -- who are homeless or are at risk of losing a home.
"Veterans have done so much and their families have given so much that it is an honor to be able to give back to them," said Brown.
The program sets veterans up in supportive housing approved by the VA for six to nine months, helping them address issues that led to their homelessness. It also provides special services in counseling, health and nutrition, life skills classes, or even veteran benefits.
"Whatever their needs are, we're gonna work with them to get stable and remain stable," Brown said.
Billy Varner is the Street Outreach Coordinator for The Wellspring, canvasing area streets and directing those needing help to the right place.
"I go out into the community and I try to develop relationships with people that are potentially homeless," he said.
Varner says everyone deserves a quality of life, and that's what the grant helps him to provide for veterans.
"They have spent a great deal of their time protecting our country and often times when they get back home, they find themselves falling on bad times and often times it lands them on the street," he said.
To qualify, veterans must be honorably discharged, with at least two years of service. The person must lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence (such as staying with family or friends) or living in an area not designed for sleeping and living accommodations such as on the streets, abandoned buildings, or cars. The person must have the ability to remain stably housed after six to nine months of service and assistance
Varner encourages anyone who is a homeless vet or who knows one, to seek help.
"We do what we say we're going to do, and we care," he said.
Currently the program is in the first stages of starting up, and Brown said they have already begun receiving applicants for the service.
If you would like more information, want to help refer someone to the program, or even just want to volunteer, call The Wellspring at (318) 807-6200.
To help a homeless veteran or veteran at risk of homelessness, refer them to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, 1-877-4AID-VET, or direct them to www.va.gov/homeless. The hotline connects homeless veterans, veterans at risk of becoming homeless and their families with the VA services and benefits they have earned.