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Vet calls on community to help homeless student veterans at GTCC

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Imagine going overseas to serve your country, coming back and facing a different battle in adjusting to civilian life. That’s the reality for at least a dozen students at Guilford Technical Community College studying in High Point.

“If you don’t have a place to live then everything else falls apart,” Heal Our Heroes founder Bob Uber said.

Uber heard from the vice president at GTCC about the problem and immediately looked for ways to help. Just off Eastchester Drive in High Point, he found his solution.

The John Wesley Camp has been hosting ministers from across the country to hear sermons for inspiration for more than 70 years. The camp has much more housing stock than it needs. The old Alice Day Dormitory is a long white brick building, vines creeping up the sides along the “no trespassing” signs. It’s been mainly used as storage for the past 10 years.

“Being a military guy it looks like an old World War 2 military barracks,” Uber said.

Uber thought it would be the perfect place to honor local veterans, the first of his organization's three core values, by providing them the benefits they need.

“Currently in an untenable situation for housing either in their cars, or something that’s not suitable for vets,” he said.

Helping them transition from combat to community, Uber leased out more than eight acres of land with about a dozen buildings attached from the camp’s owner.

Inside the Alice Day Dormitory, there are 26 dorm-sized rooms that could house these student veterans without a home, but it needs significant work.

“Massive effort just to clean it up, just to rake it up,” Uber said.

This Saturday, he’s expecting more than 100 volunteers to help gut the place and weed out the surrounding area. He says he’s drawn interest from High Point University, Lowe’s, local high schools and has even gotten the city on board to provide dumpsters for the cleanup. They’ll start at about 9 a.m.

The need goes beyond volunteer work. Uber is looking for any contractors who would be able to help with installing heating and air conditioning, and the place needs to be painted and furnished.

Uber wants to take it a step further by preserving the camp atmosphere for these vets, he’s recruited a “Camp Mom.”

“I didn’t realize for a number of years a locked closet in my life,” Uber said describing his own struggles with PTSD after time in Vietnam.

“They want a friend, they want someone who speaks their language, somebody who understands, somebody who doesn’t judge,” social worker and Camp Mom Beth Hakki said.

Uber also hopes to give back to the High Point community by converting the auditorium, that seats 500, into a music venue and a place for events.

The goal is to have the dorm space ready by Aug. 1, just in time for fall semester. To find ways to help out, you can visit helpourmilitaryheroes.org or contact Uber at (336) 430-8414.