By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- The Veterans Advisory Council for the city of Sebastian will be working through the summer on developing a plan for transition housing for veterans.
The five members and two alternate members of the council are made up of men and women from the local veterans groups, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10210 and the American Legion Post 189, but the group represents the whole veteran community, said Jerry Piper, outgoing chairman of the committee and commander of the VFW Post 10210.
Tasked by the Sebastian City Council to advise them of the needs of local veterans, the Veterans Advisory Council has identified a need for housing to help homeless veterans get back on their feet.
After discussing already built locations, the council is currently looking for a plot of land on which to build a transition housing facility in Sebastian, similar to a transition housing facility in Melbourne.
"The veterans, they want a secure place, where they won't be harassed. A place where they can use a shower or cook a meal," Mr. Piper said.
The monuments to veterans in Sebastian are a wonderful reminder to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, but putting together a housing facility would bring honor to those veterans who are living, he said.
Members of the community have stepped up to the plate to help the advisory council explore the real estate options and currently are examining foreclosed properties
"It's a huge project, but with the VFW, the American Legion, the Korean vets, the Marine Corps League, we have a lot of support and a lot of people interested in this," Mr. Piper said.
The Melbourne transitional facility accepts veterans and their immediate families who are looking for help, who are drug and alcohol free and can care for their own personal needs. They are permitted to stay between six and nine months, and if they have an income, they are required to put some aside in savings, Mr. Piper said.
"The Sebastian facility would be very similar, essentially providing the foundational, basic elements for veterans to get their feet back under them and help them restart their lives," he said. "Funding sources for the project will be a definite need, and the advisory council will eventually develop a bank account specifically to hold donated funds."
The next advisory council meeting will be held in August, and the council expects to have an update on the property by then.