A brand new project is taking shape in Saranac Lake.
"We can offer some holistic healing for these heroes coming back. They deserve a lot of time and energy, they've given it for us," said Zachary Randolph, a family counselor at St. Joseph's Veterans Center.
It's called the C. David Merkel St. Joseph's Veterans Center-- treating war veterans suffering from addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Veterans are a very unique population who share a lot of similar experiences as far as trauma. When they're able to come together as a group and bond they can talk about a lot of things that they might not talk about with other people," said Michelle Beaudoin, the inpatient service director at St. Joseph's Veterans Center.
The vets center is an expansion for St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center. St. Joe's is one of four centers in New York State to win a grant to create a brand new place dedicated only to veterans.
"What they get is hope and opportunity for support. They have to do the work, but they come to a safe place where people are really committed to helping them join recovery and make the best changes that they can make so they can have a meaningful life," said Bob Ross, the CEO of St. Joseph's Veterans Center.
The $2.8 million project will house 25 male veterans and create 15 jobs. Staff members say what sets this facility apart is their therapy sessions for veterans and their families.
"It's not just a switch. It's not that easy to just become a dad from a soldier's role," Randolph said.
"A lot of times they come from different war activities and they have a hard time assimilating because they've been living a completely different lifestyle," Beaudoin said.
The facility will offer recreational activities, counseling individually and with family members, and efforts to reconnect to the community. And supporters of the new center hope the veterans will take treatment before it's too late.
"All too often people will come to a treatment center after they've lost the job, racked up a couple DWIs, lost the spouse and the kids," said Lt. Col. Eric Olsen, a chaplain with the New York Army National Guard.
A new beginning for a well-known establishment and military members hoping to recover from war.
The Veterans Center should be completed this October.
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