Published 12:00 am Friday, November 1, 2013

The W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center has opened a new transitional living house for qualifying veterans.
A ribbon cutting ceremony held Thursday morning announced the official opening of transitional residence for veterans in the Compensated Work Therapy program.
Located on the VA Medical Center’s Brenner Avenue campus, the residence serves as a stable living environment for veterans who are in need of dual work and mental therapy. Veterans enrolled in the program will spend six to eight months in the house learning budgeting skills, how to grocery shop, and how to prepare their own meals. The program is structured to transition veterans from an institutional environment to independent living.
“This is kind of a bridge for that,” Medical Director Kaye Green said.
Tara Manis-Healey, employment services program manager for the VA hospital, says the residence is designed to target veterans who have some extra needs and who require the extra support and stability the house provides. It allows them to practice working in an environment that is flexible to their needs.
The residence features eight private rooms, plus two for live-in house managers. It was designed with a modern feel to feature lots of open space, and was decorated to provide a comfortable and calming environment.
Horace Beck is one of the veterans who will be using the transitional residence when the move-in date comes around in the next few weeks. Beck is an Army veteran who served from 1986 to 1993, and is eager to get back on his feet. Beck said that being able to provide for himself and being able to pay his own bills has helped him re-establish a sense of identity. He likes the transitional house because it helps veterans learn how to live around other people again.
“I think it’s a great program for veterans who have somewhat lost their way along the years,” Beck said.
Manis-Healey said that 10 to 15 veterans are expected to use the house in its first year. In addition to learning practical skills, Manis-Healey said the house also provides art supplies and bicycles to help veterans learn how to engage in positive leisure time. Residents will also be expected to do their own grocery shopping and to cook their own meals.
This is the second house of its kind in the Hefner VA’s regional network, which covers North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Six veterans have already been approved for the house.
“I’m thrilled that we can offer this kind of transition for our patients,” Green said.