News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Tuesday, Sept. 24th, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Over the past year hundreds of local veterans have found houses, jobs or have gone back to school all with the help of the Augusta Warrior Project.
"I went from like a cardboard box to now owning a home," said veteran William Wright.
He says it's still hard to believe. Later this month, he'll move into his brand new home on Broad Street as part of the Turn Back the Block project
"I was stuck under the illusion that I would never be able to do this," he said.
He joined the service in 1979, did tours overseas and when he came back, like many veterans, he struggled with the transition.
"I didn't have any idea that my life would've unfolded like it has," said Wright.
That's when he found the Augusta Warrior Project.
"It's like God just put them in my life and it's been up going from there," he said.
AWP has helped hundreds of veterans just like Wright. In the past year they've housed 96 formerly homeless veterans, found work for 169 who were unemployed and helped 555 get back in school.
"It takes a community to support people and Augusta rose to that challenge," said Cheree Tham with the Augusta Warrior Project.
The rest of the nation has noticed the success. The Wounded Warrior Project just chose the Augusta Warrior Project as a model for the nation.
"The basis of the model is to collaborate, connect, to educate and to advocate," said Tham.
It's a whole new initiative to help service members make the transition by taking advantage of all the community has to offer.
"The non profits, the for profits, all the way to the VA," she said.
Wright is an example of that collaboration. Now, a homeowner and a first year college student.
"If they did this world-wide the world would be a better place," he said.
The plan is to expand what's working here in Augusta into five regions over the next year. It is being funded nationally by the Wounded Warrior Project.
Operations in Augusta will stay the same, but some of the people who made Augusta so successful will now be working to help veterans across the country.