News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday May 7, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- An Augusta program is gaining national attention and Mayor Deke Copenhaver is in New York City talking about it.
It's a national summit tackling the issues veterans face and Augusta is front and center thanks to the Augusta Warrior Project helping hundreds of local soldiers and veterans.
Will Word is hard at work cataloging artifacts for the Veteran's Curation Project. The 25-year-old suffered a combat-related injury while serving in Afghanistan in 2008.
"As a veteran just getting out and coming home, you don't always know all the resources that are out there to help you," Word said.
And that's where the Augusta Warrior Project comes in.
"He's just able to be a great resource for pretty much everything I've needed," Word said.
And Augusta's program is being honored on a national level. Executive Director Jim Lorraine is in New York City for the Robin Hood Veteran's Summit.
"It's an honor to be recognized as a model in the nation. When Charlotte, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala., and Miami, Fla., come to us and ask us how we're doing it and they emulate our model that speaks more than just being invited here," Lorraine told News 12.
At an event a few weeks ago, Copenhaver told the crowd about his invitation to speak at the event. He's one of only three mayors speaking to a star-studded panel.
"That model is bringing in that type of national recognition, and I think that's a testament to the city and the great things going on here," Copenhaver told a crowd in April.
"When you look around and the fact that the mayor of Augusta is one of three mayors nationwide that's been invited to speak, you know, that says something. I know that we're on the right track," Lorraine said.
Word says he hopes cities around the country are able to learn a little something from the Augusta Warrior Project.
"I hope he can give the same help out to other people so they can do the same for their community as he's done for ours," he said.
Copenhaver says the summit went "phenomenal."
"Augusta is leading the way and many of the nation's leaders are impressed with the collaboration and work happening here," he said.
In New York City, there are 206,000 veterans. In the CSRA there are 66,000 and only 55 percent have been identified through the VA.