Counselor sets up foundation for veterans housing

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 10, 2013

SALISBURY — Timothy Heath, a licensed professional counselor in Salisbury, has established the Col. Abram Penn Veterans Foundation to provide permanent and transitional housing for veterans suffering from mental illness and substance abuse.
The nonprofit foundation’s primary mission is to see that no veteran is left homeless, Heath says.
In offering housing, the foundation also will provide case management services, such as medication management, food preparation and transportation back and forth to the Hefner VA Medical Center, private doctors’ offices and mental health facilities.
Heath, who works as a mental health practitioner for Salisbury Psychiatric Associates, was in the Army Reserve from 1995-97. He says he has no combat experience.
“I guess it’s my way of giving back to combat vets,” says Heath, who thinks it’s difficult for veterans with mental health and substance abuse issues to fit into normal assisted living facilities and retirement communities.
“Housing is a main concern,” Heath says. “… It’s a very difficult population to deal with.”
According to the foundation website, it has been operating as a 501(c)3 organization since Sept. 11, 2012, and works in collaboration with the Hefner VA Medical Center and Health Institute Community Residential Care for Veterans.
“This organization was created out of the great stress, struggle and pain that many veterans experience when discharged from the armed forces,” the website says.
The veterans Heath typically works with are dealing with depression, anxiety, brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse. A generation of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange also is coping with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, he says.
Heath already has an interest in a county-owned building in East Spencer at 418 Carolina Ave. that used to be a group home for teen girls.
Dennis Kelly, also a military reserve veteran, will be the foundation’s president and chief executive officer, according to Heath.
The foundation is named for Heath’s fifth generation grandfather, Penn, who served during the Revolutionary War.
“He was the only military officer who organized a group of men to meet up with Gen. Nathanial Greene in North Carolina in March 1781,” Heath wrote in a brochure for his foundation. “Col. Abram Penn also led covert spy missions to infiltrate the British Army’s whereabouts, to always stay one step ahead of them.”
Heath is accepting donations to the foundation at Col. Abram Penn Veterans Foundation, P.O. Box 3182, Salisbury, NC 28144.
Visit the foundation’s website at www.goveteransgo.com for more information check.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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